The Manufacture des Gobelins is a tapestry factory located in Paris, France, at 42 avenue des Gobelins, near the Les Gobelins métro station in the 13th arrondissement. It is best known as a royal factory supplying the court of Louis XIV and later monarchs; it is now run by the French Ministry of Culture, and open for guided tours several afternoons per week by appointment as well as for casual visits every day except Mondays and some specific holidays.
Comans-La Planche workshop
In 1602, Henry IV of France rented factory space from the Gobelins for his Flemish tapestry makers Marc de Comans and François de la Planche on the current location of the Gobelins Manufactory adjoining the Bièvre river. In 1629, their sons Charles de Comans and Raphaël de la Planche took over their fathers' tapestry workshops and in 1633 Charles was the head of Gobelins manufactory. Their partnership ended around 1650 and the workshops were split into two. Tapestries from this early, Flemish, period are sometimes called pre-gobelins.
Colbert and Le Brun
In 1662 the works in the Faubourg Saint Marcel, with the adjoining grounds, were purchased by Jean-Baptiste Colbert on behalf of Louis XIV and made into a general upholstery factory, in which designs both in tapestry and in all kinds of furniture were executed under the superintendence of the royal painter, Charles Le Brun, who served as director and chief designer from 1663-1690. On account of Louis XIV's financial problems, the establishment was closed in 1694, but reopened in 1697 for the manufacture of tapestry, chiefly for royal use. It rivalled the Beauvais tapestry works until the French Revolution, when work at the factory was suspended.
The Bourbons revived the factory during the Bourbon Restoration and, in 1826, the manufacture of carpets was added to that of tapestry. In 1871 the building was partly burned down by the Communards. The factory is still in operation as a state-run institution.
Gobelins tapestry, circa 1680, in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris.
Tapisserie in the Panthéon, Paris
Today the manufactory consists of a set of four irregular buildings dating to the seventeenth century, plus the building on the avenue des Gobelins built by Jean-Camille Formigé in 1912 after the 1871 fire. They contain Le Brun's residence and workshops that served as foundries for most of the bronze statues in the park of Versailles, as well as looms on which tapestries are woven following seventeenth century techniques.
The Gobelins still produces some limited amount of tapestries for the decoration of French governmental institutions, with contemporary subjects.
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- Manufacture nationale des Gobelins
- Lacordaire, Notice historique sur les Manufactures impériales de tapisseries des Gobelins et de tapis de la Savonnerie, précédée du catalogue des tapisseries qui y sont exposées (Paris, 1853)
- Genspach, Répertoire détaillé des tapisseries exécutées aux Gobelins, 1662–1892 (Paris, 1893)
- Jules Guiffrey, Histoire de la tapisserie en France (Paris, 1878–1885).
- Museums of Paris entry
- Paris.org entry