Here are a few small fragments of hand-woven Aubusson Tapestry borders c1750 that have passed through my hands recently. I have posted about some of them before, but felt like re-visiting them, as I recently saw some complete tapestries adorning the walls in a magazine article about a stately home. The tapestries would have been huge pictorial panels edged with designs like this, hung over draughty walls for ornament, heat-insulation, and of course, status, as they were incredibly expensive to commission. The wool threads were dyed with natural dyes, imparting wonderful colour to the tapestries, a rich and natural colour-pallette that cannot be repeated with synthetic, modern dyes. The design was worked according to a painted 'cartoon', which was placed near the weaving for the artisans to follow.
In the fourteenth century, Paris & Arras were the most important centres for tapestry. By the fifteenth century production had moved primarily to Tournai, then towards the end of the fifteenth century, production moved to Brussells, and this centre dominated during the 16th century. after the decline of the Flemish centres, tapestry weaving again moved and began its rise to fame in France in the seventeenth century.
I am always heartened by the sight of the first snowdrops raising and unfurling their tiny, delicate flowerheads above the iron-hard winter earth, it always makes me think of the approach of Spring, not far off now. Here are some lovely images I found on the internet to compliment the fabric photographed here, Cicely Mary Barker's Snowdrop Fairy, and illustrations by Millicent Sowerby & Drupsteen depicting the Brother's Grimm fairytale 'Snowdrop', a varient of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tale. The fabric is a beautiful printed cotton chintz, I am not sure of the origin, but most likely English or French. It dates to about 1820-30, and has been block & roller printed by the looks of it. I have a tiny, simply consructed ruffled window pelmet or valance made of it pinned across a little cottage-style window that looks out over the garden. It reminds me that I would like to try to get some snowdrop bulbs for the garden, ready for next year.
I sold this unusual, but beautiful French Art Deco silk textile a while ago, it must have been a luxury piece in its day, designed to add sensual ambience to a gorgeous boudoir. It is a pelmet or valance made from a pre-made silk-covered rigid undulating base in pink to create the main part of the design, more in ivory to create the florals, then the background filled in with button-hole stitched linen thread brides or bars to create fabric of the pelmet. I am unsure whether it would have been bought ready-made, or in kit form, to make at home, I have seen similar pieces before, but never so well made or in such good condition.
It has been made to imitate needlepoint lace on a large scale, in palest pink and ivory. The piece has been finished off with delicate crocheted balls suspended on long button-hole stitched threads, reminiscent of Christmas baubles. I imagine it was hung over a window or bed, but not for long, as it was in exceptional condition, and had been carefully stored for years. I would love to see an old photograph of a similar piece in situ! I can only imagine how decadent and opulent the rest of the furnishings of the boudoir were.
I am an obsessive textile addict, funding my 'habit' by unwillingly selling some of the beautiful antique and vintage textiles that I come across. As well as private sales, you can find me on ebay under the name vanye90, or see my ebay shop, Morgaine Le Fay Antique Textiles. A web site may be on the cards soon...
I sell mostly French textiles, but also come across English and European pieces from time to time. I enjoy ferreting out all sorts of interesting items, for example, 19th century French cottons & linens, huge chateau curtains, 18th century silks and embroideries, 16th and 17th century lace (occaisionally, when I can bear to part with them), fine linens, haberdashery as well as unused and pre-used antique and vintage fabrics such as florals, tickings, hemp runners, silks etc for projects such as cushions or pillows, framing, drapes, whatever your imagination can think of!
My new blog, Interesting Antique Textiles will discuss some of my more obscure, strange and often quite damaged textile finds with the hope that people may want to join in the discussions, and make some suggestions about the pieces based on their own experiences and textile knowledge!