Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
396
CARPET


carried on at Axminster died towards the end of the 18th century, and the name of Axminster like that of Savonnerie carpets now perpetuates the memory of a locally deceased manufactory, much as in a parallel way Brussels carpets seem to owe their name to the renown of Brussels as an important centre in the 15th and 16th centuries for tapestry-weaving.

Before the existence of steam-driven carpet-making machinery in England, employers, following the example set by the French, applied the Jacquard apparatus, for regulating and facilitating the weaving of patterns, to the hand Modern machinery. manufacture of carpets. This was early in the 19th century; a great acceleration in producing English carpets occurred, severely threatening the industry as pursued (largely for tapis ras) at Tournai in Belgium, at Nimes, Abbeville, Aubusson, Beauvais, Tourcoing and Lannoy in France. The severity of the competition, however, was still more increased when English enterprise, developing the inventions of Erastus B. Bigelow (1814–1879) of America and Mr William Wood of England, took the lead in perfecting Jacquard weaving carpet looms worked by steam, which resulted in the setting up of many power-loom carpet manufactories in the United Kingdom. It was not until 1880 that French pile carpet manufacturers began to adopt similar carpet power-looms, importing them from England.

These machines for weaving pile carpets, either looped (bouclé) as in Brussels, or cut (velouté) as in Wilton or Axminster carpets, were similar in all respects to such as had been in use by the important English manufacturers—Crossley of Halifax, Templeton of Glasgow, Humphreys of Kidderminster, Southwell of Bridgnorth, and others. A so-called tapestry carpet weaving-loom was invented by Richard Whytock of Edinburgh in 1832, but it was not brought to sufficient completeness for sustained manufacture until 1855. The essential feature of Mr Whytock’s process was that the warp-threads were dyed and parti-coloured, in such a way that when woven the several points of colour formed the pattern of the whole fabric. Although the name “tapestry” is used, the texture of these wares has but a remote likeness to that of hand-made tapestry hangings and carpets such as those of the Gobelins and Aubusson manufactories, nor is it the same as the texture of Brussels carpets. Machine-made tapestry carpets are also called “ingrain” carpets, because the wool or worsted is dyed in the grain, i.e. before manufacture. Germany in her manufacture of carpets resorts chiefly to the “ingrain” process, but in common with Holland and Belgium she produces pile (looped and cut) carpets from power-looms. In the United States of America there are many similar and very important carpet manufactories; and Austria produces fine cut pile carpets (veloutés), the designs of which are largely derived from those of the Aubusson tapestry-woven carpets (tapis ras).

Lengths or pieces of felt and other substantial material are frequently made for floor and stair carpeting, and are often printed with patterns. These of course come into quite another class technically. The technological aspects of the several branches of carpet manufacture by machinery are treated in the articles on Textile-printing and Weaving. Briefly, the products of carpet manufacture practically fall into three main divisions: (1) Pile carpets (tapis moquettes) which are either looped (bouclé) or cut (velouté); (2) flat surface carpets (tapis ras) as in hand tapestry-woven material; and (3) printed stuffs used for carpeting.

Whilst the production of carpets by steam power predominates in Europe and the United States of America, and at one time appeared to be giving the coup de grâce to the craft of making carpets by hand, there has been in Modern hand-made carpets. recent times a revival in this latter, and many carpets of characteristic modern design, several of them made in England, are due to the influence of the late William Morris, who devoted much of his varied energies to tapestry weaving and pile carpet weaving by hand, both of which crafts are being fostered as cottage industries in parts of Ireland, as well as in England. At the same time leading English carpet manufactures continue to produce hand-made carpets as occasion requires. In France a much more systematic existence of tapestry weaving and pile carpet making by hand has been maintained and is of course attributable to the perennial activity of the state tapestry works in Paris (at the Gobelins workshops) and in Beauvais, and of corresponding works managed by private enterprise at Aubusson and elsewhere.

Designing patterns for English carpet manufacture is now more organized than it was, and greater thought and invention are given to devising ornament suitable to the purpose of floor coverings. Before 1850 and for a few years later, rather rude realistic representations of animals and botanical forms (decadent versions of Savonnerie designs) were often wrought in rugs and carpets, and survivals of these are still to be met with, but the lessons that have been subsequently derived from intelligent study of Oriental designs have resulted in the definite designing of conventional forms for surface patterns. The early movement in this direction owes much to the teaching of Owen Jones, and in its later and rather freer phases the Morris influence has been powerful. Schools of art at Glasgow, at Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere in the United Kingdom have trained and continue to train designers, whose work has contributed to the formation of an English style with a new note, which, as a French writer puts it, has created a sensation in France, in Germany, in fact in all Europe and America.

France retains that facility of execution and liveliness in invention which have been nurtured for over three hundred years by systematic, governmental solicitude for education in decorative design and enterprise in perfecting manufacture. Her Aubusson and Savonnerie carpets have maintained a style of design in form and colour entirely different from any that clearly throws back to Oriental principles, and many of the designs for the finer and larger of these carpets are schemed with large central oval panels, garlands of flowers and fantastic frames very much on the plan of what is frequently to be seen in the decoration of ceilings. At the same time the style called l’art nouveau has become developed. It largely grows from very fanciful dispositions of free-growing natural forms, as well as curiously curved and tenuous forms, many of which are bone-like and fibre-like in character, flat in treatment and rather thin and washy in colour, and its influence has slightly percolated into designs for pile carpets. This style, sometimes intermixed with the more robust, less fantastic and rather fuller-coloured English style, has found followers in England, America and Germany, but the bulk of the designs now used in power carpet looms seems to be mainly of Oriental descent.

The more important art museums in Europe contain collections of Oriental carpets, and the history of many is fairly well established. The subject has become one of serious study, the results of which have been published and elucidated by means of well-executed coloured reproductions of carpets and rugs preserved in both public and private collections.

Bibliography.—(1) An Account of the New Manufactory of Tapestry after the manner of that at the Gobelins; and of Carpets after the manner of that at Chaillot, &c., now undertaken at Fulham, by Mr Peter Parisot (London, Dodsley, 1753, 8vo). This is probably the only account of carpet-making in England during the 18th century; it is of peculiar interest in that respect, and as containing a statement that “the Manufacture of Chaillot is altogether of wool, and worked in the manner of Velvet. All sorts of Figures of Men and Animals may be imitated in this work; but Fruits and Flowers answer better; and the properest employment for this Art is to make Carpets and all sorts of Skreens.” (2) Essai sur l’histoire et la situation actuelle de l’industrie des tapisseries et tapis, by W. Chocqueel (Paris, 1863). (3) Vol. xi. of Reports on the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867, containing “Report on Carpets, Tapestry and other stuffs for Furniture,” by Matthew Digby Wyatt, F.S.A. (1868). In reviewing the modern products shown at the exhibition, Sir Digby Wyatt discusses at some length the aesthetics of carpet design. (4) British Manufacturing Industries, edited by G. Phillips Bevan, “Carpets,” by Christopher Fresser (London, 1876). (5) Altorientalische Teppichmuster nach Bildern und Originalen des xv.-xvi. Jahrhunderts, by Julius Lessing (Berlin, 1877). Numerous references are made in this illustrated work to the carpet designs that occur in paintings by Italian and Flemish masters. (6) Eastern Carpets, by Vincent J. Robinson, with water-colour drawings by E. Julia Robinson (London, 1882, large 4to). In this publication,