Tapestry Manufactory in Paris

Museums and Galleries

The Royal Tapestry Manufactory (La Manufacture nationale des Gobelins), which arose in Paris, made France the center of world tapestry art in the 17th century. Since then, the term "tapestry" in a number of countries, including Russia, has become synonymous with the original Italian concept of "trellis". Both mean a lint-free carpet, hand-woven from woolen or silk threads, depicting floral ornaments or plot compositions.

The tapestry carpets required many years of painstaking work. They were made according to the sketches of famous artists, which were transferred with maximum accuracy to a special cardboard, which became a model for the tapestry itself. Therefore, tapestries were very expensive, as a rule, they decorated the chambers of monarchs, were presented as gifts to noble persons and were valued as works of art.

The origin of the manufacture

In the 16th century, Gilles Tapestry, a dyer from Reims, settled in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Marcel. His company was engaged in dyeing wool, mainly in bright, red colors. After some time, the heirs of the Gobelin created a weaving workshop at the dyehouse.

At the beginning of the 17th century, after decades of religious wars, the new king, who reconciled France, Henry 4, engaged in economic reforms. At that time, Flanders held the palm in tapestry art. Heinrich drew attention to the fact that the weaving workshops of France did not meet the needs of the strengthened monarchy either in terms of quality or in terms of production scale.

To raise them to the proper level, he invites two tapestry masters from Flanders. The Dutch Comans and Planche settled in the former Gobelin workshop, having bought the building from them, which was assigned the name of the previous owners.


In a short time, the weavers of the renovated workshop achieved great skill in their business. Lerambert, known as the author of the series of paintings "The History of Artemisia", was appointed its official artist.

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The manufactory created carpets based on the works of artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, many of whom were Flemings. The themes of the drawings often became biblical and mythological subjects, scenes from the life of the royal court. The tapestry "Psyche" was created from Raphael's cardboards. And later, commissioned by Louis 13, the famous Rubens created the cardboard "History of Constantine", dedicated to the first Christian emperor of Rome. These works became vivid examples of the Baroque style, which was then spreading in Western Europe.

Establishment of the royal workshop

During the reign of Louis 14, the luxury of the French royal court reaches enormous proportions. During this period, the minister of finance of the monarch, Colbert, who supported the development of handicraft production in the country, decided to acquaint the king with the works of the workshop of Planche's heirs. A clever courtier arranged a visit to the manufactory of the royal person. A subtle connoisseur of works of art, Louis, was fascinated by her tapestries.


As a result, the Royal Crown Wall Carpets Manufactory was established in the building of the Tapestry Workshop, bought by the monarch in 1662.

The combined enterprise included several workshops: Tapestries, weavers of the town of Maincy, Tuileries and Louvre.


Five years later, a furniture was added to the tapestry weaving workshop. As a result, the royal manufactory became a center for the production of luxury goods for the upper class. In addition to tapestries, there were produced: upholstery and silk fabrics, lace, furniture, wood and inlaid with various materials, ceramics, chandeliers, silver, gold and marble products.

The rise of the royal manufactory and its decline

Lebrun, the first painter of the royal court, became the artist of the workshop. He became famous as the creator of the ceremonial style, which conveys the splendor and richness of the environment of Louis XIV.

After Lebrun, Udry became the artistic director of the manufactory. Considering the color of the old carpets too bright and tasteless, and the technique of execution rough, he began to struggle with the old traditions. Udri wanted the weavers themselves to understand and try to convey both the integrity of the image on the tapestry and the nuances of its color shades. But this aspiration of the painter had a downside. He created the obligatory color chart for all carpets produced. The performer lost the ability to choose shades and change something in his work.

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A new system for creating tapestries arose, in which the initiative of the weaver was eliminated, the works became more and more of the same type. As a result, in the 19th century, there was a gradual decline in both the craft itself and the manufacture of tapestries. This was greatly facilitated by the two French revolutions, which destroyed the workshops as evidence of the hated royal power.

Since 1937, the tapestry enterprise has become state-owned and is subordinate to the French Ministry of Culture.
Today, the national manufactory includes workshops and a museum. It tries to preserve the traditions and methods of the best masters of the 17th century. The museum exhibits the most outstanding works of carpet art of the 17th - 18th centuries

Getting there

Address: 42 Avenue des Gobelins, Paris 75013

Phone: + 33 1 44 08 53 49
Website: mobiliernational.culture.gouv.fr
Metro: Les Gobelins
Hours: 11: 00-18: 00

Ticket prices

  • Adult: 14 €
  • Reduced: 10 €
  • Child: 7 €