From the 15th century and onwards, Gobelins is synonymous with tapestries. The influence of these tapestries should not be underestimated, in that they line the walls of palaces in Europe. The attraction to the decorative art form is that it is “painting by needle stitch, waft and weft”.

In some languages, various transliterations of the word  have been used instead of the word tapestries to address the whole notion of woven tapestries. The clients considered Gobelin tapestries more fine art, than decorative art. Tapestries were very much sought after commodities that were extremely expensive to produce. It was not just the cost of the materials but it once took skilled people somewhere between 3 months to a year to produce one. The Italians and the French saw them as  fantastic ‘soft-furnishings’ and warmer alternatives to frescos and murals. In the UK the English Tudor dynasties treasured tapestry art higher than painting.

example of gobelins as high end acquisitions to stately homes

The name is derived from a family of dyers, cloth makers and tapestry manufacturers in Paris, whose factories were soon called Manufacture des Gobelins. Naturally, the surname also provided the name for Avenue des Gobelins and underground station Les Gobelins métro. The Gobelins were soon the leading tapestry manufacturers in continental Europe, a consolidated position they held for centuries.

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