Beauvais Manufactory

  • founded 1664
  • Artist, Maker, Manufacturer
  • French

As part of a constant effort to promote French industry, Louis XIV's finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert founded the Beauvais tapestry manufactory in 1664. Although it was established under Colbert and subsidized by the state, the Beauvais works was a private enterprise run by a succession of entrepreneurs with varying degrees of success. Beauvais made tapestries for the wealthy bourgeoisie and nobility of France, as well as for export.

One of the most popular early series of tapestries produced at Beauvais was titled Les Grotesques. With occasional variations, these patterns were woven in numerous sets for over sixty years. When Jean-Baptiste Oudry was made the director in 1734, the factory flourished and became, in the words of Voltaire, "the kingdom of Oudry." Oudry insisted on higher technical standards and designed tapestries that showed nature in various forms. When he was appointed director at the Gobelins manufactory, he stopped painting cartoons for Beauvais and selected the young painter François Boucher as Beauvais's new designer. Boucher designed forty-five tapestries for Beauvais, including The Story of Psyche and Loves of the Gods. Throughout the 1700s, Beauvais also produced furniture upholstery, often produced en suite with sets of hangings.