Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Orphans at Savonnerie


My current work-in-progress takes place in and around Paris, and concerns the orphans at the Savonnerie tapestry factory. Because I found the research so interesting, I thought I'd share a bit of it with my readers.
During the 15th century, Jean Gobelin founded a dye factory in Paris. Later, Henry IV took over the factory and turned it into a profitable tapestry factory. In 1601, the king brought two weavers from Flanders to Paris to manage the workshops, which were still known as the Gobelin factory.
Some sixty of the workers came from a Paris orphanage. They ranged in age from ten to twelve. The two weavers taught them the craft, and even brought in a tutor once a week to instruct in the art of drawing cartoons, the patterns weavers follow to make the tapestries.
After six years of apprenticeship, one of these orphans, supposedly the one who exhibited the most talent, was chosen as maƮtre. The rest continued as journeymen.
The Gobelin factory tapestries were admired by royalty, and became so valuable only royals could afford them. Louis XIV’s Minister of Finance commissioned several for the king, which took years to produce. Some of the Gobelin tapestries, like the one pictured here, can be seen at Versailles.
The Gobelin name continues, and now the word Gobelin describes not only a weaving technique, but also a color, the best known of which is Gobelin Blue.

10 comments:

Mary Ricksen said...

Amazing information Joyce. Very interesting. Good luck with the story.

Joyce Moore said...

Mary: Thanks for stopping by. Gee, you're on top of everything. Don't know how you do it all. Yes, this was interesting subject to research.

Margaret Tanner said...

Fascinating information Joyce.

Regards
Margaret

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I've never read about this before. This is something unique and different for writing content. I love the tapestry photo. It is a true work of art. Now if I can just talk my husband into visiting the Louvre with me!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Just wanted to add that Versailles must be truly amazing!

P.L. Parker said...

I love blogs that give some really interesting historical tidbit. Thanks for sharing.

Joyce Moore said...

Hi MArgaret: Yes, the research was interesting. Turns out the use of orphans was done throught several centuries. Thanks for stopping by!

Joyce Moore said...

Jacqueline: Can you believe I went to France and didn't have time to go there? A friend and I want to go over New Years so hopefully then, although I did get to a museum of the Middle Ages. I remember seeing a comb with tin on the part the teeth are attached to. That was their mirror. You can learn a lot in a museum.

Joyce Moore said...

P.L.: Thanks for stopping by. I always try to post something of interest to readers, and also something maybe a writer can use in their stories. BTW, your website is very nice, and really expresses your genre.

Joyce Moore said...

Jackie: I didn't get to Versailles either. I know you're wondering what I did see, but it was lots of ruins, lots of medieval castles, and a town in the southern part where no one lives (subject of another blog).