The glories of medieval, renaissance and baroque tapestries tell us much about European history. These precious textiles, masterfully hand-woven using silk and woolen threads colored with rare dyes from around the globe, and often shot through with gold or silver thread, were created for practical, decorative and even propaganda reasons.
Because of the enormous expense of these massive wall hangings, they were only commissioned by aristocratic patrons. Royalty, nobility and the Church ordered these richly visual textiles to show the world not only their wealth, but also their power. Great battles were often depicted, as were symbolic scenes from mythology. The Church commissioned biblical scenes, while nobility would request more earthly themes of love or nature. No matter the image, there was always a message to be conveyed even in their highly symbolic decorative borders.
Practically speaking, these heavy hangings helped ward off the cold of a stone wall while warming up rooms visually with their splendor. Often designed by well-known artists of their day, and signed by renowned workshops, the best antique tapestries continue to dazzle, even in the twenty-first century. Here are a few rooms we designed that hold tapestries of faded grandeur or brilliant color.