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The most important of the royal commissions by Louis XIV from the Savonnerie factory was the weaving of 93 carpets for the Long Gallery of the Louvre from 1665. It was partly the need for large-scale looms and more space for this endeavour that led to the permanent re-siting of the factory at the former soap works at Chaillot, just outside Paris (savon is French for soap, hence the name Savonnerie).
The Long Gallery was not just the Grande Galerie that can be visited at the Louvre today, but extended into the now-vanished Tuileries Palace, and was 425 metres long. The carpets were divided into groups and woven either with landscapes or imitation reliefs, depending if they were even or odd numbered. Their purpose was to reflect the glory of the King, with themes such as Fame, Victory, Hunting and Authority, and the motifs, divided as they are into sections, are thought to have mirrored the ceiling vaults and panels.
There are three Long Gallery carpets at Waddesdon, acquired by Ferdinand and Alice de Rothschild. The Red Drawing Room carpet, dating from 1683 and woven in Lourdet's workshop, was the 20th in the series and the only one of this design, although the head of Apollo, representing the Sun King, and Louis XIV's symbol, appeared on at least 17 other Long Gallery carpets. Ferdinand echoed the head of Apollo on the carpet with the marble medallion of Louis XIV over the door from the Red Drawing Room to the Oval Hall.
The carpet would originally have been longer, with landscapes at both ends. Most Savonneries surviving today have been altered or cut down because of their history and use in the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Dimensions (mm) / weight (mg)
7800 x 5540
Heraldry and mottos
- Commissioned by King Louis XIV of France (b.1638, d.1715) for the Long Gallery of the Louvre; stored at the Garde-Meuble for most of the 18th century; used for the Assemblée des Notables at the Palace of Versailles in 1787; sent to the Finance Ministry in Paris on 17th October 1796; disappeared from the Mobilier National and 19th century location unknown; acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898); inherited by Miss Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by Mr James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
- Waddesdon (National Trust)
- Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957
- Pierre Verlet, Anthony Blunt; The Savonnerie: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre; 1982; pp. 218-222; Cat. no. 3
- Jane Turner; Dictionary of Art; 34 vols; London; Grove; 1996; vol. 27, p 895
- Treasures from The National Trust; London; The National Trust; 2007; p. 343
- Wolf Burchard, Savonnerie Reviewed: Charles Le Brun and the 'Grand Tapis de Pied d'Ouvrage a la Turque' Woven for the Grande Galerie at the Louvre, Furniture History: The Journal of The Furniture History Society, XLVIII, 2012, 1-43; p.35
- Entry from (Pierre Verlet, 1982), http://api.waddesdon.org.uk/docs/Savonnerie/2267.pdf
- Decorative Motifs & Patterns/Flower Motifs
- Mythology/Gods & Goddesses/Apollo
- Nature, Landscape & The Elements/Countryside
- Objects/Armour & Weaponry/Cannon
- Objects/Armour & Weaponry/Spear
- Objects/Armour & Weaponry/Quiver
- Objects/Musical Instruments/Lyre
- Objects/Religious & Ceremonial/Crown
- Decorative Motifs & Patterns/Leaf Motifs/Acanthus Motifs
- Decorative Motifs & Patterns/Moulded & Edging Patterns (e.g. beading)
- Decorative Motifs & Patterns/Scroll Motifs