Gobelin work shops



In 1440 in France Jean and Pilibert Gobelin, brothers who dyed cloth, founded a workshop. Later this was operated as a weaving workshop by Flemish dyers, under the name Les Gobelins. Between 1607 and 1630 the workshop produced numerous tapestries under the direction of François de la Planche – originally van der Planken –  (Tancred Baptising the Amazon Clorinda, Whom He Has Mortally Wounded) and Marc de Comans. It was at this time that use of black and white began.
Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-83), finance minister to Louis XIV, had the Gobelin workshop turned into a royal manufactory (under the name Manufacture Royale des Meubles de la Couronne) in 1667. The minister was a great patron of the arts and sciences, and founded many institutions. It was he who transformed the Savonnaire (originally a soap works) into a weaving workshop in 1626. Later on wall tapestries for the Palace of Versailles were made in this workshop.
According to some claims, Colbert founded these workshops to prevent the outflow of French gold, thereby keeping in France the large sums of money earlier paid out to Flemish master weavers. Subsequently Colbert entrusted the management of the Gobelin workshop to Charles Le Brun (1619-90). Between 1662 and 1690 a total of 894 ’gobelins’ emerged from the Gobelin workshop. Depictions, in accordance with the display needs of the Baroque Court, were largely mythological and historical in theme. Van der Meulen and Le Brun made the Story of the King series, which consisted of sixteen works. It depicts scenes from the life of Louis XIV on the basis of designs by Mathieu. These tapestries were made for the Palace of Versailles between 1673 and 1681.”-MGY These were historical (Alexander the Great)  (The Battle of Granicus) and allegorical (Fame, The Elements, The Seasons). Otherwise, in addition to wall tapestries, the weaving and use of lighter coloured door tapestries and curtains spread and became general in the age of the Sun King Louis XIV (1638-1715).  Tapestries from the Gobelin workshop drew the admiration of the age and of posterity through the beauty of their compositions and the meticulous execution of the weaving. After Le Brun’s death there was no worthy successor to the master, with the result that the workshop was closed down. It reopened only in 1699. Between 1662 and 1690 894 tapestries (“gobelins”)  were made in the Gobelin workshop, and they created many later.