Sacred art on fabric, the most beautiful tapestries to express your faith

Sacred art on fabric, the most beautiful tapestries to express your faith

Sacred tapestries have always been the protagonists of religious art. Preserved in churches all over the world, they are considered precious treasures to be exhibited only on great occasions. But some display them in their own homes.

Why talk about sacred tapestries today? The need to see depicted the image of God, or the sweetest face of the Virgin Mary, or triumphant or blessing Christ, is an indispensable component of Christian devotion. We must in no way read in this need a form of idolatry. Indeed, it is precisely devotion, especially popular devotion, that demands these representations, as manifestations of visible and tangible faith and love. Christianity, moreover, was based from the beginning on the need to visually render the symbols of faith, to allow the members of the first Christian sects to communicate with each other without incurring persecution.

We must also consider that in ancient times most of the men and women who attended the church were illiterate. Therefore, the representations of Jesus and Our Lady, as well as of Saints, became indispensable both to inspire faith and to ‘tell’ what in the Sacred Scriptures remained the prerogative of the few scholars.

We have focused on this topic in the past, talking about the sacred paintings to have in the house. Yes, because at the same time as the spreading of sacred images in the churches, the need to have one or more sacred representations in one’s own house, as a testimony of the faith of the inhabitants of the house itself, of their belonging to God, was soon manifested.

5 must-have sacred images

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5 must-have sacred images and pictures
Since the origins of Christianity, people felt the need to reproduce the object of their devotion…

What we have written about sacred paintings also applies to sacred tapestries, especially if we consider that the art of tapestries is very ancient and has always been widespread in every part of the world. It is no coincidence that many famous painters and artists have lent their art to the creation of sacred tapestries, drawing the bases on which the artisans would then lay their own warp of coloured threads.

Beginning in the 14th century and throughout the Renaissance, castles, houses and places of worship were enriched with countless tapestries. In addition to representing objects of art and devotion, they also fulfilled the difficult task of thermally insulating environments, often too large and difficult to heat.

How a tapestry is made

The name ‘tapestry’ derives from the name of the French city of Arras, one of the first centres of this ancient and fascinating art. In this city, during the Middle Ages, artists and craftsmen of all kinds were gathered, from painters to weavers, from carpenters to jewellers, because the art of sacred tapestries was complex and needed many skills.

The tapestry is a piece of fabric woven by hand on a frame, usually made of wood, starting from cardboard, or a preparatory drawing, made by a painter.
Like each fabric, a tapestry is composed of a weft, the set of horizontally arranged threads that make up the visible design of the tapestry, and a warp, the threads stretched vertically on the frame that supports the weft.

Tapestry What is it and how it’s made

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Tapestry: What is it and how it’s made
Tapestry is an extremely ancient art form which has been present in all cultures in the world for millennia…

The warp threads are organised into two series that are divided into openings called passages, or warp mouths. Here the plot is passed through which, unlike what happens with a normal fabric, is not spread with a single shuttle, or spool of wire, but with many different shuttles, one for each colour. This required in the past that the craftsmen work on small sections of tapestry from time to time, passing and going over the weft through the warp, to build the various elements of the design.
The threads of the weft are then crushed with a comb so that the warp is completely hidden.

In ancient times it took years to make large craft tapestries. They were real works of art, which reached care in the details and sharpness in the surprising colours. Being designed to cover the walls, the old tapestries were usually large.

In the 17th century, the tapestries painted directly on fabric, usually, silk and linen, began to spread and real oil paintings on cloth hung on the walls, which became an integral part of the furnishings of many castles and palaces.

The Jacquard frame

In the nineteenth century, the textile industry was revolutionised by a series of innovations. Mechanical frames powered by steam, hydraulic frames and flying spools appeared, intended to change the working methods of weavers around the world.

Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a French inventor who lived under Napoleon, invented the Jacquard Frame. In practice, it is a frame that uses perforated cards that automatically guide the weaving of the weft on the warp and consequently the formation of the design on the fabric. This allows the weaver to work alone, without the need for an assistant to intervene from time to time to create the warp holes to follow the drawing on the preparatory cardboard.

The Jacquard frame was composed of a structure that was to be applied on a normal frame, and which included a ribbon formed by perforated cartons to reproduce the design that was wanted to be made, a chain that advanced the perforated panels, a series of cylindrical counterweights connected to the meshes of the licks, or the components of the frame that divided the warp threads. The counterweights were connected to the meshes of the licks, to which the various warp threads were secured. When the counterweights found a hole in the pre-drilled cardboard, they ‘dropped’ the thread creating a warp hole in which the weaver could insert the weft thread to create the desired design. The weaver then proceeded by combing the plot and following the next ‘fall’.

As expected, this invention was welcomed with great enthusiasm but also with fear, because many weavers saw it as a threat to their work. Even in France in 1831 a revolt broke out among the silk weavers of Lyon (the Canuts), but this did not prevent the Jacquard loom from spreading rapidly throughout Europe.

In the past, the Jacquard frame was still a manual frame, in which the movements of the cartons were determined by the weaver using levers and knobs. The most complex fabrics were spread on frames that allowed the processing of more warps with the help of pedals.

Today Jacquard frames are automated in all their parts, from mechanical movements to the progression of computer-managed drawing schemes.

Our religious tapestries

In our online shop, you will find many tapestries suitable for hanging in your home. These are mainly reproductions of famous tapestries, or tapestry works obtained from famous works of art of the greatest masters of the past.

Our religious tapestries are of different sizes, suitable for every wall and every room. They are all produced in Italy and made in a frame with different types of material, from polyester to Lurex, to Viscose. Some of these tapestries have been embellished with particularly fine yarns and refined workmanship.

As for the subjects, there is only the embarrassment of choice. There are sacred tapestries representing Our Lady, Jesus, the Saints and the Pope. Others, as we mentioned, are reproductions of significant scenes of the Sacred Scriptures, such as the Last Supper, the Adoration of the Magi or the Annunciation.

Here are some sacred tapestries that reproduce famous works of art.

Doni Tondo by Michelangelo tapestry
This beautiful tapestry is inspired by Michelangelo's Tondo Doni. Painted in a greasy tempera on a panel between 1503 and 1504, the original is preserved in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He had been commissioned to Michelangelo by Agnolo Doni, a wealthy banker, probably on the occasion of his wedding to Maddalena Strozzi. The tondo, the only work on mobile support made by Michelangelo, represents the Holy Family, with the Madonna in the foreground who turns to take Jesus the Child from the arms of Joseph behind her. The tapestry has an exclusive design and a refined weaving made with a Jacquard frame. Made in Italy. The size is 65x65 cm, and the design is made with sanding on the entire perimeter, therefore suitable to be framed.
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Botticelli's Madonna of the Book
The tapestry inspired by the Madonna del Libro by Sandro Botticelli is 65 cm wide and 53 cm high. It reproduces with a skilful weaving on a Jacquard frame the eponymous tempera painting on a table by Sandro Botticelli, kept in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan. In it, Mary leafed through a book while holding the Child Jesus. The work is rich in symbolic elements, such as the star on Mary's robe, which recalls the star comet of the Magi, the three nails between the fingers of the Child, the crown of thorns around his wrist, or even the basket of fruit, which contains cherries (which recall the blood of the Passion), plums (love between mother and son) and figs (symbol of Resurrection).
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Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano Tapestry
A sumptuous tapestry with an exclusive design, made with refined Jacquard weaving and embellished with gold and lined lurex yarns, this tapestry depicts the Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano, painted in 1423. 63 cm wide and 80 cm high, the product is Made in Italy and is equipped with a pocket for inserting the rod to hang it. Preserved at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, it is considered the artist's masterpiece and the most brilliant example of international Gothic in Italy. Commissioned by Palla Strozzi, a very rich man, as well as a cultured and refined humanist, the painting represents the adoration of the Magi with a magnificent scene, which in some way also pays homage to the opulence of the magnificent client. The scene is actually composed of many paintings on which the attention of the viewer dwells from time to time, enriched by countless naturalistic details and costume.
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Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael
The tapestry inspired by the Madonna del Cardellino by Raffaello Sanzio has a size of 65x53 cm. It reproduces the subject of Raphael's oil painting on a panel in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Made for Lorenzo Nasi, a wealthy wool merchant, and for his betrothed Sandra Canigiani, he was lost in the landslide that swept their home on the Costa San Giorgio in November 1547. It was found among the rubble in seventeen fragments and subsequently restored several times. It represents, against the backdrop of a river landscape, the Madonna who holds Jesus the Child between her legs, and Saint John who embraces her. Both children play with a goldfinch, one of the symbolic birds of the Passion of Christ.
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Tapestry inspired by Giotto's Flee
Another splendid sacred tapestry to be exhibited in the house is this tapestry inspired by the Flight into Egypt, one of the frescoes of the cycle of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua painted by Giotto between 1303 and 1305. The tapestry measures 94x132 cm, and is made with refined Jacquard weaving and embellished with gold and lined lurex yarns. It is equipped with a pocket for inserting the rod to hang it. The original fresco depicts the Holy Family fleeing to escape the Massacre of the Innocents, led by an angel who shows them the way from heaven. Mary is in the middle sitting on a donkey, with Baby Jesus fixed to her chest thanks to a striped scarf tied around her neck. Joseph and a servant walk beside them, while three other figures close the procession talking to each other.
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Virgin of the Green Cushion by Andrea Solari
The tapestry of the Madonna del Cuscino by Andrea Solario is Made in Italy with an exclusive design and refined Jacquard weaving. Suitable to be framed it measures 65x45 cm. The original painting is by Andrea Solario, an Italian Renaissance painter influenced by Leonardo da Vinci's school, but also deeply linked to Venetian colourism and Flemish art. The Green Pillow Madonna, now preserved at the Louvre, was made by the master during his stay in France. Show the Virgin while breastfeeding Baby Jesus who is leaning on a green pillow in the foreground. A scene of great tenderness and family love.
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The Marriage of the Virgin tapestry
The tapestry reproducing Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin is 59.5 cm wide and 38.5 cm high. Made with a Jacquard frame it has been carefully finished by hand and worked entirely in Italy. It takes inspiration from the painting by the Maestro dated 1504 and preserved in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. The work was originally commissioned by the Albizzini family for the chapel of San Giuseppe in the church of San Francesco in Città di Castello. The painting shows the marriage of Mary and Joseph, united in marriage by a priest and surrounded respectively by a group of women and a group of men. In the background, the temple of Jerusalem constitutes the true optical centre of the painting and the fulcrum of all space, which develops around it.
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