A NATIONAL TREASURE
On exhibit on a rotating basis over 200 masterworks of French silk tapestry based on works by major artists primarily of the 19th and 20th century.
This is the most important and extensive exhibition of woven silk tapestry ever shown in the world. These tapestries are considered the most beautiful tapestries in existence.
Silk tapestries is the art form of weaving silk textiles producing pictures and images. This process was the major means of reproduction of master pieces prior to photography. Silk tapestries have remained popular because of their three dimensional characteristics and intericate weaving. They are truly timeless works of art.
Joseph-Marie-Jacquard (1752-1834) was the French inventor who pioneered the practical use of punch cards to control the pattern of cloth that was woven on a special loom. The Jacquard loom started a technological revolution in the textile industry.
The system of punch cards used in its operation became a prototype for the first mechanical computers. This inpart inspired English mathematician Charles Babbage (1791-1871), who came up with the concept of a calculating machine under the control of punch cards-the birth of the computer.
Francois Carquillat (1803-1884) two centuries ago, transformed these works of art onto point-paper. A picture converted into such picture-points is called a point-paper of "patron". Contrary to a printed fabric, the Jacquard silk pictures are created by interlacing the white warp threads (in length) with black or white threads (across). On the reverse side the exact original is visible as a reverse negative. Initially, the original picture is transformed into individual picture- points, similar to television pictures. Each picture-point, where warp and woof threads meet, is indicated by a mark. In this technical language subject exists of over 2 milion picture-points (pixels) and require about 1000 hours for artwork to be completed. The "patron" is then transformed onto a punch-card which controls the Jacquard weaving-machine a process that could take up to 2 1/2 years.
Tiny changes in temperature and humidity in a room can cause the tapestries to shrink or expand from hour to hour, from minute to minute. It is as if the tapestries appear to breathe, expanding, contracting and shifting. The threads twist and rotate restlessly. When the warp threads relax, the loops move and change.
There is a luminosity and depth of field on them. Obviously photographs can neither reflect the beauty and sheen of pure silk nor the impression of three dimensions. Then there is solace in their beauty and one can stare at them in pure amazement.