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The Manufacture des Gobelins is a tapestry factory located in Paris, France, at 42 avenue des Gobelins, near the Les Gobelins métro station in the 13th arrondissement. It is best known as a royal factory supplying the court of the French monarchs since Louis XIV and is now run by the Administration générale du Mobilier national et des Manufactures nationales de tapis et tapisseries of the French Ministry of Culture. The factory is open for guided tours several afternoons per week by appointment as well as for casual visits every day except Mondays and some specific holidays. The Galerie des Gobelins is dedicated to temporary exhibitions of tapestries from the French manufactures and furnitures from the Mobilier national, built in the gardens by Auguste Perret in 1937.
In 1602, Henry IV of France rented factory space from the Gobelins for his Flemish tapestry makers Marc de Comans and François de la Planche on the current location of the Gobelins Manufactory adjoining the Bièvre river. In 1629, their sons Charles de Comans and Raphaël de la Planche took over their fathers' tapestry workshops and in 1633 Charles was the head of Gobelins manufactory. Their partnership ended around 1650 and the workshops were split into two. Tapestries from this early, Flemish, period are sometimes called pre-gobelins.
In 1662 the works in the Faubourg Saint Marcel, with the adjoining grounds, were purchased by Jean-Baptiste Colbert on behalf of Louis XIV and made into a general upholstery factory, in which designs both in tapestry and in all kinds of furniture were executed under the superintendence of the royal painter, Charles Le Brun, who served as director and chief designer from 1663-1690. On account of Louis XIV's financial problems, the establishment was closed in 1694, but reopened in 1697 for the manufacture of tapestry, chiefly for royal use. It rivalled the Beauvais tapestry works until the French Revolution, when work at the factory was suspended.
The factory is still in operation today as a state-run institution.
Gobelins tapestry, circa 1680, in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris.
Tapisserie in the Panthéon, Paris
Today the manufactory consists of a set of four irregular buildings dating to the seventeenth century, plus the building on the avenue des Gobelins built by Jean-Camille Formigé in 1912 after the 1871 fire. They contain Le Brun's residence and workshops that served as foundries for most of the bronze statues in the park of Versailles, as well as looms on which tapestries are woven following seventeenth century techniques.
The Gobelins still produces some limited amount of tapestries for the decoration of French governmental institutions, with contemporary subjects.
A branch of the manufactory was established in London probably in the early 18th-century in the area that is now Fulham High Street. Around 1753 it appears to have been taken over by the priest and adventurer, Pierre Parisot, but closed only a few years later.
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