National Furniture and Manufactures
The history of the Mobilier National and that of the Manufactures Nationales are inseparable from Colbert, without however being confused. These two institutions have been together on the same site since 1937, when the current Mobilier National buildings were built in the immediate vicinity of the historic Gobelins enclosure. They have been attached to a single general administration since the same date, but each of the buildings (headquarters of the Mobilier national and workshops of the manufactures) nevertheless retains its singular spirit.
The National Furniture
Former Crown Furniture Guard, the institution, while keeping its original missions (link with missions) has evolved over the centuries. It is now a service with national competence, (since 1 January 2003), attached to the Directorate-General for Artistic Creation of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
The Mobilier national has been installed since 1937 in a building built of cement by Auguste Perret on the former gardens of the Gobelins manufacture. Some important dates:
- 1959 : attached to the Minister responsible for Cultural Affairs.
- 1964: creation within the Mobilier national and at the initiative of André Malraux, of a research and creation workshop.
- 1980, 23 February: decree setting out the main tasks of the Mobilier national.
- 1982, october: the National Furniture is placed under the supervision of the Delegation for Visual Arts of the Ministry of Culture.
- 2003, January 1 : the National Furniture becomes a national service.
At present, the Mobilier national is responsible for many missions. It preserves, repairs and maintains approximately 80,000 movable and textile objects (tapestries, carpets). Heir to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the Mobilier National furnishes the official palaces of the Republic and the various presidential residences. The mission of creation of the institution is exercised within the framework of the three manufactures of weaving, the Workshop of Research and Creation (ARC) and the workshops conservatories of lace of Puy and Alençon. From the beginning, factories have been places of creation where weaving is practised in a dialogue with living artists. An advisory committee examines proposals for the purchase of carpets, tapestries and lace cartons.
Pieces from old collections as well as recently created works are regularly presented at the Galerie des Gobelins in Paris, and the National Gallery of Tapestry in Beauvais, which are also the subject of loans for exhibitions organized in France or abroad.
Exhibits: see the news.
The documentation centre is open to researchers for all requests relating to archives and works records and also responds by post to a number of requests for information from outside persons or bodies.
Publications: see list.
Pedagogical activitiesThe General Administration of the National Furniture and Manufactures provides a complete training to the trades of straighteners and restorers of carpets and tapestries. During the four years of study, the students acquire technical mastery of weaving trades (high-smooth tapestry, low-smooth or Savonnerie carpets) as well as catering trades (carpets, tapestries). They also take art courses and general art history courses.
Initial Training:> Download the training brochure
The educational activities: > Download the brochure
To learn more: The website of the Mobilier national
The Manufacture nationale des Gobelins
Attached to the administration of the Mobilier National since 1937, the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins weaves, as it did four centuries ago, tapestries based on contemporary works (Marcel Gromaire, Pierre Dubreuil, Jean Arp, Fernand Léger, Alexandre Calder, Sonia Delaunay, Jean Dewasne, Serge Poliakoff, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Eduardo Arroyo, Gérard Garouste, Louise Bourgeois, Patrick Corillon, Hervé Télémaque, Ung no Lee, Gudmundur Erro, Jean-Michel Alberola, etc.) testifying to the multiple possibilities of a mode of expression open to all aesthetic and contemporary trends.
Today, the act of creation is a fruitful dialogue with artists. It is an act of transposition in textile terms of a writing initially pictorial or photographic. Weaving is not a simple copy, even if the cardboard is adapted from a pre-existing model. The cardboard, now a photographic enlargement made by the straighteners and possibly retouched by the artist, is a step towards a new creation that owes its originality to the new material, the work of the dry cleaners and the talent of the straightener. From this dialogue often come changes in the project that make the work a co-creation.
To date, the workshops of the Manufacture nationale des Gobelins employ 30 agents and have 15 looms. Each year, six to seven pieces "fall out of trade".
The Manufacture of Beauvais
In 1936 the manufacture was attached to the Mobilier National and managed by a General Administration from which the Manufactures des Gobelins and the Savonnerie also depended from 1937. Beauvais took an active part in the renewal of the tapestry that characterized the 20th century. Many contemporary artists provide boxes, such as Matisse (Polynesia, The Sky and Polynesia, The Sea), or Hartung, Le Corbusier, Picasso…
This opening continues today, with the contribution of contemporary artists from all aesthetic trends (Raymond Hains, Eduardo Chillida, Roberto Matta, Patrick Tosani, Vincent Bioulès, Jean Le Gac, Shirley Jaffe, etc.).
The Manufacture de Beauvais also returned in 2005 to the tradition of weaving upholstery, which had made its reputation in the past but was abandoned in the 1960s. She then invited three artists, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Paul-Armand Gette and Martine Aballéa, to design boxes to cover seats of different styles belonging to the collections. Every year, about five to six tapestries "fall out of trade".
The Manufacture de la Savonnerie has two workshops, one in Paris and the other in Lodève.
The history of carpets in France began with the foundation by Henri IV of the "Persian and Levant-style" carpet manufacture established in the Louvre galleries, benefiting notably from the know-how of Pierre Dupont and his apprentice Simon Lourdet. Louis XIII developed the manufacture by setting up workshops on the banks of the Seine at the foot of the hill of Chaillot, in the buildings of an old soap factory - hence the name of Savonnerie, which since designates the carpets made according to the technique of the knotted point, said "of Turkey". On March 4, 1825, an ordinance decreed that the royal manufacture of the Savonnerie be attached to that of the Gobelins. From the Third Republic on, the few trades were used exclusively for the manufacture of decorative panels for the Pantheon, the Elysée, the National Library. The 20th century began a stylistic revival. Some carpets are indeed put on craft according to models of Diéterle and Pierre-Adrien Chabal-Dussurgey but also of Félix Bracquemond, Hannotin, Chéret. Screen sheets are made after Odilon Redon, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne. From 1911 the weaving of the Water lilies according to Claude Monet.
After a difficult period, the Savonnerie experienced a new and important boom. Models specially designed for her, perfectly adapted to the technique were ordered from Victor Vasarely and Georges Mathieu. It finds its original originality by executing large size carpets and even a panel of Yaacov Agam, intended for a wall decoration.
In 1964, a weaving workshop first established in Saint-Maurice-l'Ardoise (Gard) was created in Lodève to promote the integration of French women of North African origin who had left Algeria after independence. In 1965, the workshop was attached to the National Furniture Administration. This workshop, an annex of the Manufacture de la Savonnerie, has been installed since 1989 in new buildings according to the Philippe Dubois architectural plans. The new buildings respond to the needs of the manufacture by their functionality through large and bright workshops.
If the Manufacture de la Savonnerie still weaves today some copies of old carpets that are substituted for old pieces, the two workshops of Paris and Lodève mainly interpret boxes of contemporary designers: painters (Zao Wou ki, Soulages, Alechinsky, Buraglio…), architects, designers (Garouste and Bonetti, Portzamparc, Paulin, Radi, Crasset, Dubuisson, Ruyant…).