Tapestry became an important element of French Style. The finest tapestries came from France. To meet demand throughout Europe, the state-sponsored French factory at Beauvais devoted its entire production to seat covers. [27/03/2003]
'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900'
The work of the Beauvais manufactory in this century consisted largely in production of tapestry-woven seat covers for sets of furniture. This specimen formed part of a gift of appreciation made to this Museum by the French Emperor in 1862. The floral design recalls designs of the previous century. Its designer exhibited flower paintings in the Paris Salon, acted as professor at the Gobelins manufactory from 1850, and won a first class medal in the 1855 Exhibition. [1987-2006]
This is part of a set of tapestry woven chair covers (two panels, for the seat and back; the other museum no. 7928-1862). This was a type of furnishing much favoured by the wealthy who, eschewing avant garde taste, sought a regal, luxurious, but more traditional type of furnishing in their homes. The panels were woven at the National Manufactory at Beauvais, France. This was then the most important French tapestry manufactory under official patronage after the Gobelin Works in Paris. Large figurative tapestry panels fell out of fashion in the 19th century so manufacture concentrated on the production of furnishings. From 1804 Beauvais supplied French royal and imperial palaces.
Pierre-Adrien Chabal-Dussurgey, the designer of these panels, trained in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the centre of the French silk-weaving industry. His tapestry designs were used both at Beauvais and at Gobelin where from 1850 he held the post of professor. His designs were awarded medals at various international exhibitions, including that of 1855, where the jurors extolled his work with the comments: 'These are no conventional flowers, but a truly magical bouquet sown on these fabrics by a felicitous hand'. These chair panels formed part of his exhibits at the International Exhibition of 1862, described as 'furniture in the style of Louis XV and XVI ....intended for Imperial palaces'.
The chair covers were presented to the South Kensington Museum by Emperor Napoleon III in recognition of assistance given by officials of the Museum to the members of the French Jury at the Paris Exhibition of 1862.
Tapestry (cover for chair seat), woven in wool and silk, with floral design.
Seat cover, designed by P.-A. Chabal-Dussurgey, made by the Beauvais Tapestry Factory; France, 1860-1862