Music has always been with us. Man has enjoyed this little pleasure since he could pick up a stick and hit it against a hollow log. As musical instruments developed over the centuries we can trace some of the oldest instruments visible in tapestries from the early medieval period on.
The early medieval tapestries have noble ladies playing portative organs, young gentlemen playing the dulcimer, and young peasant boys blowing into a penny whistle. Through wall hanging tapestries we are introduced to village fetes (festivals) with dancing and singing all accompanied by various ancient instruments. In fact musicologists have used these hand woven tapestries to document and trace the history of the evolution of various musical instruments. The most famous of tapestries depicting a portative organ is from the Lady with the Unicorn tapestry, representing the one of the senses – hearing. It is one of the wall tapestry series from a set of 6 now located at the Cluny museum in Paris. This French tapestry depicts as beautiful lady playing a portative organ, and is attended by a handsome unicorn and lion.
As we move forward in time, musical themes picked up momentum in wall hanging tapestries. Country village dances with musical instruments which included drums, portative organs, fiddles and flutes started being portrayed in tapestries designed by Flemish painters of the 16th century. By the time we arrive in the 17th and 18th centuries, wall tapestries with panoramas of chateaux, villas and palaces have musical instruments displayed in foreground. Good examples of these types of tapestries are Chateau Monceau and Chateau Versailles from Heirloom European Tapestries. Panoramic views and country scenes no longer sufficed, as the wall hanging tapestry world was rapidly moving into still life. Painters such Oudry, Fragonard, and Boucher in France and Veronese, Caravaggio, Bernini and others in Italy started the move to floral tapestries. Originally destined for paintings only, the weavers caught the trends and started to commission painters to produce cartoons for the wall tapestry market.
By the time we enter the 19th century, we see William Morris resurrecting weaving by producing tapestries for the decorative market. Still life such as Bouquet et Violon and Stone Ledge with Vase tapestries were part of this movement to provide decoration for the average person. Wall hanging tapestries were no longer a luxury only available to the King or aristocracy, but tapestries were now available to the average person set on beautifying their home. We notice that with many tapestries entering the marketplace from the 17th century on, and up to present day, musical instruments continue to play an important role in the decorative element of a tapestry wall hanging.
Today, tapestries are available to us in every form, size, color and subject matter. Reproduction tapestries which include antiques and hand woven tapestries from the 15th century – we can choose from medieval tapestry themes, to European tapestries – from France, Italy, Belgium, England. We can make our home look like a castle with tapestries before the 16th century, or an aristocrats home from the 17th and 18th century. We can pick our themes, with our without musical instruments. The world is our oyster; there are no borders or boundaries to how we decorate our homes or which tapestries we choose to hang on our walls.
Heirloom European Tapestries provides large tapestries that depict country estates and architectural ruins in sweeping grandeur and helps transform a room to capture the right subject with custom tapestries.
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