At the Gobelins, the most beautiful tapestries you will ever see

Charles Le Brun, The marriage of Louis XIV in Saint Jean de Luz, Gobelins, Mobilier National, photos Isabelle Bideau

What Louis XIV’s minister Jean Baptiste Colbert and royal painter Charles Le Brun achieved at the height of the Sun king’s reign is exceptional and the exhibition at Manufacture des Gobelins gives us an idea of the luxury cultivated at court at the Louvre, first and then in Versailles. Tapestries created at la Savonnerie in Chaillot, at the Gobelins and in Beauvais, North of Paris, are exhibited until December 4 th. It is a unique occasion to see the marriage of Louis XIV th which is usually at the French Embassy in Madrid and the 9 meter long carpet which used to be at the Elysée palace, in the President’s office.

Charles Le Brun, Carpet for the Grande galerie of the Louvre, 1679, Savonnerie, ©Mobilier national, photos Isabelle Bideau

When you enter the Manufacture des Gobelins, you are immediately stunned by the large tapestries welcoming you. The History of Alexander, Scenes from the old Testament by Simon Vouet, the History of Louis XIV th reign and the tapestries of the royal castles including Saint Germain, the Château de Madrid in the Bois de Boulogne, the Tuileries which is destroyed nowadays are like comic books of the 17 th century. When Fouquet was arrested in Vaux le Vicomte, Colbert immediately stole his “lissiers” (tapestry artisans) and moved them to the Gobelins.

The King enters Dunkirk, 1662, Manufacture des Gobelins, © Mobilier national, Isabelle Bideau

And the site of the Goblins became a proper village with families moving in, and a surgeon, schools, a priest and a beer house moving in. There is a famous tapestry showing Louis XIV visiting the Manufacture and thus establishing its importance. The Manufacture de la Savonnerie, specialized in carpets was built on the hill of  Chaillot at the same time. An ensemble of 93 carpets of huge dimensions (9 m x 4.55m) were commissioned for the Louvre and later Versailles. One example designed by Le Brun, is visible on the first floor of the exhibition.

Charles Le Brun, The Château des Tuileries or October, ©Mobilier-national-Isabelle-Bideau

There are also exceptional pieces of furniture like the cabinet in ebony and precious stones created in 1675 with Florentine marquetry and lent by the museum of Decorative arts in Strasburg.

Claude Lefebvre, Portrait of Jean Baptiste Colbert, 1666, Château de Versailles

The detail of the handwork on each tapestry is really fun to discover from close up. Soon, on December 4, all these beauties will disappear an go back into hiding at the Mobilier National, so do not miss this occasion of seeing them, beautifully restored.

The siege of Tournai, Manufacture des Gobelins, 1670-1676 (detail), wool, silk and gold, Paris Moiblier National

Manufacture des Gobelins, until December 4.

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One Comment on ““At the Gobelins, the most beautiful tapestries you will ever see”

  1. Susan J. Hewitt

    How gorgeous, Laure! I always found fine tapestries to be quite mind-blowing, even as a child. And it appears that the colors in these have stayed true through the centuries.

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