The Beauty of Aubusson
Float far enough down the River Creuse and one will find the charming town of Aubusson. Originally a Roman encampment, Aubusson is quaint, provincial, and picturesque, it’s charming country architecture providing an unassuming, perhaps unlikely setting for such a treasure of the arts.
In the early fourteenth century, Flemish settlers brought looms, fibers and knowhow to the little riverside hamlet and began producing rudimentary iterations of the fine tapestries we have come to enjoy today. Weavers arriving from Flanders unraveled their kit and set up shot in Aubusson two hundred years later and were soon burdened by great volumes of work raveling elaborate tapestries, rugs and toile for squires and statesmen acquiring works to decorate their voluminous chateaus. Fast forward three hundred years, and Aubusson had been given the status of “Royal Appointment”, a seal of majesty deserved by only the finest examples of textile workmanship. With the support of the royal court of Louis, the market for the beautiful totems of Aubusson were whispered of in the chambers of state and private parlours alike in greater frequency than ever before, leading to an economic upturn often unseen in provincial Central France. Before long, Aubusson production had surpassed that of Savonnerie and began to rival the traditionally coveted floor coverings found in sophisticated houses across France.
After the revolution, Robespierre and his deranged compatriots had done quite a number on the fortunes of the sort who traveled to and ordered from Aubusson, and the craft was nearly abandoned. This floundering was further compounded by the invention and subsequent enthusiastic adoption of wallpaper across the Continent as a new mode of wall covering. The business of weaving elaborate rugs and tapestries diminished in gradual decline for Aubusson until the middle of the nineteenth century, when rug making was finally left to the dustbin. Private interest in these rugs was generally left to Parisian boutiques, upmarket auction houses and other purveyors of old and beautiful things.