The style of Medieval tapestries is often associated with the painters of the time. In the 14th century, the English triumph at Agincourt broke the myth of chivalry. In response, the Dukes of Burgundy commissioned wall tapestries in Arras. In particular, the history of St. Piat and St. Eleuthere in the cathedral of Tournai were commissioned by Toussaint Prier. These are attributed to the famous weaver Pierrot Fere, who was not one of the great middlemen of Arras.
The warp of a medieval tapestry was made of wool. The weft, or threads that run width-wise, were made of linen. The warp and weft were woven together to form a whole. The materials used for these beautiful works of art have many advantages over other materials, including their durability and ability to be dyed. But wool was not always the best choice for the weft. Other materials such as linen were used for the weft as well, as they were easier to work with.
The tapestry was made with the help of a skilled craftsman who copied a full-scale pattern and coloured it in. He then traced the pattern onto the warps, which served as the base for the composition. Then, the artist cut and folded the pattern in half underneath the warp threads. During the Renaissance, this technique was widely used. It essentially reversed the orientation of the pattern.
Another rich panel found in Medieval tapestries was the baldachin. This panel, or canopy of the state, hung over the throne. Normally, the seat under the baldachin would be raised on a dais and the king would eat under it. This tapestry is the most renowned Medieval tapestry in existence today. You can see the rich details of a medieval tapestry on the baldachin.
One of the most beautiful medieval tapestries is the Lady with Unicorn. Despite the name, the tapestry’s origins are still uncertain. It is believed that the tapestry was woven in Southern France for the King of France. The family may have moved to the Loire Valley during the 14th century, but the tapestry was probably woven in Lyons. A few hundred years later, this tapestry was also created in Italy.
The process of weaving a medieval tapestry began with the creation of a pattern. The first step was to copy a full-scale pattern and then color it with watercolors. The craftsman then traced the pattern onto the warps, which act as the base for the composition. The patterns were also called “cartoons” because they were usually made of small local flowers. A skilled father-and-son team would take about two months to complete a square foot.
The ‘Theatre of Troy’ tapestries were created from a composite cartoon, and were woven in southern Netherlands. These tapestries were made as gifts for the Burgundy Dukes. The myth of Troy appealed to the Dukes of Burgundy, who maintained that Priam, the last king of the city, was their ancestor. This type of work continued to be exported throughout Europe from the various tapestry workshops of northern France.