Savonnerie Manufactory

Datesactive 1627 - present
RolesArtist, Manufacturer

As an initiative to revive industry and the arts after the Wars of Religion, Henri IV, King of France established carpetmaking workshops. By 1671 the Savonnerie carpet factory, named for its new location in a former soapworks ( savonmeans soap in French), had moved to the western outskirts of Paris. The carpets, produced primarily for the royal family, were constructed of fine, close woolen pile, of approximately ninety knots per square inch. A skilled craftsman had to work a full year to make about two and one-half yards (three square meters) of plain carpet and even longer to make more complex patterns.

Although carpets made to cover floors and tables were the factory's mainstay, it also produced wall-hangings, panels for folding screens, upholstery, and copies of oil paintings. Since the government prohibited the import of carpets from the East, the Savonnerie factory flourished. Among other splendid presents, the king of France, Louis XV, gave Savonnerie carpets to the Ottoman sultan in 1742; he particularly wanted to impress the sultan with the quality and richness of French carpets, woven on this occasion with borders of gold thread.

The Savonnerie was joined with the Gobelins tapestry manufactory in 1825. Carpet production continues today, both reproducing older designs and making newly commissioned works designed by contemporary artists.

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