2010-06-19

The Savonnerie Carpet

Carpet in the chancel


The Savonnerie carpet belongs to the Royal Collections. The carpet was a gift to Gustav III in 1784. It was probably designed by Pierre-Josse Perrot and made in Paris during the first half of the 18th century.

French lilies, garlands of flowers and acanthus leaves


The approximately 6 x 6 metre carpet features an extravagant pattern, depicting French lilies, garlands of flowers and acanthus leaves. The colours and splendid shapes are typical of these kinds of carpets, which were used by the French Royal Family as prestigious diplomatic gifts. Savonnerie carpets from France were named after the foremost carpet factory in Europe, the Savonnerie factory. The factory was founded when Ludvig XIII issued a royal licence for carpet production to Pierre Dupont and his apprentice Simon Lourdet (died 1671) in 1627.

 


Soap factory


Lourdet had taken over a former soap factory (savonnerie) in Paris. Dupont began working in his own studio following a disagreement between the two men, but both of their carpets became known as Savonnerie carpets.

 


The name is often used incorrectly for carpets of the same type from other factories.
The carpets have a tight wool pile and were woven on standing looms. It was a very expensive process, since it took a skilled professional one year to complete three square metres of a single-coloured carpet, and longer if the pattern was complicated.

The factory reached its peak during the first part of Ludvig XIV's reign. The licences were renewed in 1664. The factory merged with Les Gobelins following a period of economic difficulty. However, in the end carpet production ceased because it became far too expensive.