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Textiles (T) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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TABBY, TABINET: A thick silk taffeta with a watered or variegated surface introduced into England late in 17th century. Tabinet is sometimes distinguished from tabby, in its use chiefly as upholstering.

TAFFETA: A fine silken stuff, smooth, plain and closely woven, with a lustre or gloss, used for hangings.

TAMBOUR-STITCH: A loop-stitch, similar to the chain stitch in embroidery.

TAMBOUR-WORK: A type of embroidery that was popular in both the 18th and 19th centuries. It takes its name from the drum-like hoop that held in place the material that served for the foundation. It was much used for the embroidery of muslin.

TAMMY: A fine, worsted cloth of good quality, often with a glazed finish.

TAPESTRIES: Tapestry-making is weaving, and its principle is simple. Colored threads, usually of wool or silk, constitute the web, and are woven across other threads, generally of linen, which constitute the warp. A tapestry is a pictured cloth with a ribbed or rep surface woven either on a vertical, high-warp (haute lisse) or on a horizontal, low' warp (basse lisse) loom. In the former the warp is vertical and the woof horizontal; in the latter, the woof is vertical and the warp is horizontal. The high' warp tapestry was known to antiquity and in the celebrated periods of weaving in Europe the high-warp loom has been the one in use. The low-warp loom came into use in France about 1600. It is almost impossible to distinguish the difference in the product of the two methods. The weavers of the 18th century put a single red thread along the top and bottom of a tapestry woven on the low loom to distinguish it. All old tapestry, is of course, hand-woven.

From very early times the inhabitants of Western Europe were renowned for their woven fabrics. The weavers at Arras are said to have begun weaving in the 9th century. Weaving was done in monasteries in France far several centuries. In the 13th century the craftsmen organized guilds and from that time tapestry weaving became an established industry. In tapestry there are four important groups; Gothic, 14th and 15th centuries; Renaissance, 16th century; Baroque, 17th century; Rococo and Classic Revival, 18th century. Before the 14th century there were primitive tapestries only.

The art of tapestry-making came to Europe from the East, and in the 14th century at Paris and at Arras in Flanders designers and weavers were able, with a few colors, to manipulate threads into the strongest and liveliest contrasts of form, color and tone that can be achieved on a flat surface. France is the mother of Gothic tapestries, and Arras gained such distinction that its name became the synonym for tapestry of the finest quality. In the last quarter of the 14th century the craft of the tapestry weaver was in the most prosperous condition it knew in France in the Middle Ages. In the next century Brussels and Bruges and Tournai in Flanders took the lead under the influence of designs by Flemish and Italian artists, and by the middle of the 16th century Flemish tapestry attained a degree of perfection which has never since been surpassed. Much of the wool for the finest French and Flemish tapestries was imported from England. In return, the tapestries of Arras and Flanders were sold in England. In Italy, Ferrara, Florence, Milan and Rome were also noted for fine tapestries in that century.

In the 17th century Brussels lost its leadership through haste and excessive production, and the tapestries woven at the Gobelins' (q.v.) factory in Paris, fostered by King Louis XIV, took first place before the end of the century, and in England tapestries were produced at the Mortlake factory, founded in 1619 by Sir Francis Crane, which were of the highest order of merit. The best tapestries of the 18th century were those of Beauvais (q.v.) but the high standards of the early tapestries had degenerated. The difference is mainly of texture, though also caused by the different character of the designs and by the attempt to use too many shades of coloring. Since the 18th century no really great tapestries have been made.

Gothic and 18th-century tapestries have narrow borders or none; Renaissance and Baroque tapestries have wide borders, some of them of great beauty. Gothic tapestries excel in reds; Renaissance in whites and golden yellow; Baroque in blues; Rococo in rose; while Classic Revival colors are weak and pale. The most important distinguishing feature of old tapestries is the open slits which separate the different parts of the design, different in this respect from damasks, brocades and other weaves. In the prominent museums in this country and in Europe, and in some private collections too, there are to be seen many of those early masterpieces of woven art. A great many have been destroyed by the ravages of time and by the wilful purpose of man, especially in France during the time of the French Revolution. Those tapestries that survive well deserve the care and admiration now bestowed upon them.

American Tapestries. The first tapestry produced in America was woven on a small loom in New York in 1893 by a Frenchman. Since that time other looms of the low-warp pattern have been set up, workmen obtained from abroad, and some creditable copies of old tapestries have been made.

Arras Tapestries. See above, directly after TAPESTRIES.

Aubusson Tapestries. Weaving of tapestry was established here before the 17th century, and as early as 1637 had more than two thousand workers on low-warp looms. The industry was greatly injured by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and by the hard times that prevailed in France in the last decade of the 17th century. In 1731, the French Government assisted by sending a dyer and a designer from the Gobelin factory; prosperity began anew, and the best period of tapestry weaving in Aubusson is from 1740 to 1790. Distinguishing features of the early product are the dazzling whites and the loose texture.

Bayeux Tapestry. See BAYEUX.

Beauvais Tapestries. This famous factory was founded in 1664. It was a step in the campaign that transferred the tapestry supremacy from Flanders to France. The factory here produced tapestries for the general public, while the Gobelin factory was devoted to work for state purposes. Compared with those made at Gobelins' the Beauvais tapestries were inexpensive. In the 18th century, largely because of the designs of the artist Boucher, the work of Beauvais is comparable with the best tapestries of the earlier centuries.

English Tapestries. The first English factory of any continuity appears to have been the Sheldon Looms, established at Barchester in Warwickshire by William Sheldon about the middle of the 16th century. The tapestries produced there compare favorably with the finest contemporary Flemish weavings. Some of these consisted of large tapestry maps of English counties. The great name in the history of tapestry-making in England is Mortlake in Surrey County in the 17th century. From 1620 to 1636 these tapestries, made under Sir Francis Crane by expert weavers from Flanders, rival those of the later Gobelins and surpass those of Brussels of the period. Sir Francis Crane died in 1636 and the establishment became known as "The King's Works." The factory lost royal support in the troubled times of the reign of Charles I and, after struggling through the times of the Commonwealth and the Restoration, finally passed out of existence in the reign of Queen Anne. There were also some other minor factories in England during this period, and one in Ireland. Several are of record during the 18th century, Lambeth, Fulham and Soho.

Flemish Tapestries. See above, directly after TAPESTRIES.

French Tapestries. See above and Gobelin Tapestries.

Gobelin Tapestries. The history of Gobelins begins with the establishment on the banks of the Bievre river in Paris of a dye factory, by Jean and Philibert Gobelin, brothers, at the end of the 15th century. In the following century they added to their dyework a tapestry manufactory. In 1662, the factory attracted the attention of Colbert, French finance minister, who purchased the works, and in 1664 the King, Louis XIV, established it as a royal manufactory under the direction of Charles Le Brun, the great master of decorative art of that period, who with a great number of artists and artisans brought the production of tapestry to a high state of perfection in design and weave. From that time the Gobelins have been the most artistic tapestries anywhere produced. The finest set was the History of the King (Louis XIV), a grand historical document. The set numbered fourteen hangings. The History of Alexander in eleven hangings is another famous set. During the 18th century the Gobelin tapestries failed to reach the high standards of the earlier work. The Savonnerie (q.v.), an establishment founded by Henry IV for velvet pile carpets and hangings, was combined with Gobelins' in 1826.

Mortlake Tapestries. See English Tapstries, above.

Rhenish Tapestries. Along the banks of the Rhine from Basle to Mayence, there existed through the entire 15th century a flourishing industry of tapestry weaving. The production was small, the work was quite individual, and in type different from the Flemish tapestries df the same period.

Russian Tapestries. Peter the Great established the Imperial Tapestry Factory at St. Petersburg in 1716 with French weavers from Beauvais. Some notable tapestries were made there but the factory was discontinued in 1859. Spanish Tapestries. The Royal Tapestry Factory was established in Madrid in 1720 and is still in operation. The best were those woven in the last quarter of the 18th century from designs by Goya.


TAPESTRY FURNITURE COVERING As furniture became much more diversified in the 18th century, tapestry coverings became common. France set the example and most of these coverings were made at Beauvais on low-warp looms and at the Gobelin works. Aubusson also produced many attractive sets. Tapestry coverings all in silk are much inferior to those that have the proper proportion of wool.


TEXTILE PRINTING: In printing fabrics the color is stamped on from an engraved block or roller. The process, in one form or another, can be traced back to remote times. In the 17th century the industry was revived, and in 1676 textile printing was introduced into England by a French refugee who opened an establishment on the Thames River near Richmond. In the last half of the 18th century the art was brought to a high state of perfection in France, especially at the Toile-de Jouy factory (q.v.) of Oberkampf. The first factory for printing fabrics in America was started in 1774 at Kensington, near Philadelphia, by John Hewson, an Englishman who had gained his knowledge of the business in England. Although the industry grew rapidly in this country American prints have never quite reached parity with those from abroad. At the end of the 18th century metal rollers took the place of wooden blocks and the modern machine period had begun. The printing of woolen and silk cloths is similar to that of cotton or linen except that the woolen cloth requires more preparation and the silk cloth less.

TIFFANY: The term for transparent silk, gauze muslin or cobweb lawn, 17th century.

TOILE-DE JOUY: French chintz manufactured at Jouyen Josas in the Bievre valley near Paris, in a factory established in 1760 by Christophe-PhilippeOberkampf (17381815). The chintzes were printed with designs by master artists of the period, of whom Jean Baptiste Huet from 1773 to 1811 was the most prominent, and they became very popular in France, and later in England. Colors used were sepia, mauve, blue, grey, green, black and madder red. After the death of Oberkampf the factory gradually dwindled in importance and in 1843 it was torn down.

TOILINETTE: A cloth for waistcoats with weft of woolen yarn and warp of cotton and silk. Name from the French toilinet, in turn from toile, a canvas.

Tow The short fibers of flax made into a heavy thread, used for burlaps and coarse clothing stuff, and, when woven, called tow cloth.

TURKEY-WORK: A home product of Colonial times in this country, also imported from England, made in imitation of Oriental pile rugs by threading woolen yarns through a coarse cloth of open texture (canvas or burlap) then knotting and cutting the ends. It became very popular for chair coverings and table and cupboard cloths.