Sunday, October 31, 2010

Renaissance Tapestry Exhibition

Most people who enjoy tapestries display them on a wall, but many people don’t realize the practical use of tapestries in times past. Tapestries have been around for hundreds of years, even in ancient civilizations, where they not only decorated the royal residence, and were hung around the royal bed for privacy, but were also used for burying the dead.


During the medieval period, churches recognized the powerful impact a Biblical scene would have on a congregation who could neither read nor write. Between that, and the show of grandeur that every European court craved, the tapestry industry thrived. Tapestries became so coveted that they were considered war prizes, and were taken by conquering armies and brought back to their country. This makes it almost impossible to trace the origin of rare tapestries, unless the artist depicted a recognizable scene, city, or siege.

Paris was the first city to open factories for the production of tapestries, most notably the Gobelins factory. During the Hundred Years Was, weavers moved north and into Belgium. My historical novel, The Tapestry Shop, opens in Arras, France, a place so famed for its tapestries that the city name, arras,  is now synonymous with the word tapestry. What I’d give to own one of those ancient tapestries, but of course they are in museums now, the few that exist, and are kept under carefully regulated temperature, light, and humidity.

For those of you within driving distance of Sarasota, Florida, the John Ringling Museum of Art has an exhibition of Renaissance tapestries from a museum in Vienna. The exhibition began in October and runs through Jan. 2, 2011. Here’s the link http://www.ringling.org/Exhibitions2.aspx?id=8490 .

6 comments:

Vonnie Davis said...

Great informative post. Thanks for sharing your research.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Vonnie: Glad you enjoyed the post. I stopped by your site, and it's lovely. I see you have an agent. Gee, that's a huge step towards publication. Do keep in touch, and thanks for stopping by.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joyce,

I have to agree with Vonnie: this is a very informative post. I knew tapestries were hung in castles to ward off the cold as well as lending warmth through beauty and color but never knew they could be shrouds for the dead.
I'd love to go to Sarasota and see these wonderful works of art.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Jacqueline: I'm a few hours away, but will have to go see them. BTW, I'm in 3rd chapter of your book, The Inferno Collection, and liking it. Only wish I had more time to read for enjoyment. Have 2 volumes about the Renaissance waiting for research, and they don't have an index. They're very old, and I'm surprised any library would lend them through ILL.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joyce .. I loved this information and wish I lived in the States .. as I'd be down to take a look .. tapestries are amazing and thanks for the extra info re the 'factory' .. etc ..

Great post - thanks - Hilary

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Hilary, and I'm glad you stopped by. I read a little about you, and see you've led an interesting life so far. I went to London this year, my first time ever, and got to see some amazing things. They had an exhibition in Lambeth Library and I saw the document Elizabeth I signed for Mary, queen of Scots' execution. You are so lucky to be there with all that history. I am looking forward to seeing the tapestry exhibition in a few weeks. Glad you liked the post.