As far back as the ancient Greeks, hand-woven tapestry art was believed to be an important means for decorating affluent homes and important buildings. Tapestry art was even thought to have covered the walls of the Parthenon.
During the Middle Ages and through the Hundred Years war, France was considered the world’s most important producer of tapestry, with Paris being the tapestry capital of the western world. Unfortunately, during Hundred years War, with pillaging and unrest, many woven tapestry pieces were lost or burned for their precious metal content. Eventually tapestry artists, skilled dyers and tapestry craftsmen moved north towards Flanders into what today is called Holland and Belgium.
Today, most surviving pieces of original hand-woven tapestry art are from the 16th to the 19th century. During that time construction consisted mainly of Picardy wool, Italian silk, and gold and silver threads imported from Cyprus.
Renaissance tapestry, on the other hand, evolved later on with completely opposite views.
The purpose of Gothic pictorial art in hand-woven tapestry art was to tell the story beautifully and effectively, but in all cases to tell the story at any expense. The purpose of Renaissance pictorial art in woven tapestry was to produce illusions of what reality should be.
It was actually more intellectual, more abstract, and more scientific with perfection of form, precision of method, and creative grandeur as its objective for the viewer. The artist Raphael and his Renaissance School of Ancient Roman Art, in actuality, gave rise to the Renaissance tapestry art style in the early sixteenth century.
Between the hand-woven tapestry art of classical antiquity and that of the Thirteenth century, a long period of darkness and artistic void intervened in western culture, and for over a thousand years weavers were content to leave the marking of large wall paintings to artists and embroiderers.
Then, in the early Thirteenth and Fourteenth century, Gothic art appeared in woven tapestry art with it’s unique form of religious mystery and romance to fascinate the viewer. Their hand-woven tapestry art was intensely personal, intensely human, and overall intensely spiritual. The tapestry art created at that time was the work of men permeated with religious consciousness and with the warm comprehension of the omnipresence of their God.