Another Paris recommendation from designer Rachel Laxer is the Robert Four gallery. The largest manufacturers of Aubusson tapestry weaving, they carry on a 500 year old heritage of timeless tradition with innovative technique and modern artistry. Housing an enormous collection of ancient rugs and tapestries, they have also, since 1952, collaborated with famous artists of the day, creating modern tapestries using Aubusson manufacturing techniques.
You are probably familiar with the centuries old masterpieces of hand woven wool and silk such as this 17th century Flanders tapestry from Brussels, Scene from Roman History, now part of the gallery’s amazing collection.
I love the etymology of Savonnerie, the original French Aubusson design. In the 16th century, rugs brought from the Near-East captivated the French royalty. An artist, Pierre Dupont, then presented some French designed samples to the royal court in 1606. Queen Mary de Medicis (wife of King Henry IV) was so enchanted, she took over a soap factory (savonnerie) for Dupont to install his looms. The rest, as they say, is history.
But what I found the most interesting were the modern masterpieces. Following World War I, France led a revitalization of tapestry as an art form. Many modern masters gave their permission to have their works reproduced. Robert Four carries on this tradition. Each contemporary Aubusson tapestry is an original work of art, limited to six copies in addition to two artist copies. They are authenticated and autographed by the author or someone authorized by the estate. How strong yet lyrical is “Thyria” by Georges Braque?
And I love the whimsical quality of the lovely Place Furstenberg, where I just was in Paris, after a Dali.
French painter and tapestry designer Jean Lurcat was, with Francois Tabard, a master weaver at Aubusson, instrumental in creating these collaborations. He formed the Association of Cartoon Painters of Tapestry (cartoons are the elaborate drawings from which the tapestries are designed) and the Aubusson factory once again became a creative hub. His “Le colibri et la guitare” is below.
A follower of Lurcat, Dom Robert, was a Benedictine monk whose amazing tapestries were inspired by Persian and medieval European manuscript illumination. His “La Vie en Rose” below is beyond charming.
While Jacqueline Duhème is much better known for her enchanting illustrations as in Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad, I was delighted to see a tapestry of hers hanging at Robert Four. It reminded me of the primitive paintings of Rousseau.
Of course, you can also custom order a rug of your own design. A fabulous addition to a bespoke interior, as Rachel used here in her Swiss chalet project, it is art that adds color, texture and originality in an unexpected way. Robert Four is a source to remember, continuing the legacy of a meaningful artistic heritage that still has relevance and adaptability for today.