The Gobelin is a “painting by needle stitch”
It’s related to tapestry, but instead of being woven, it is sewn on canvas with a fine needle, point by point, in a process that may take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year, depending on size of the piece, complexity of the design, size of the needle point, number of threads and their thickness and the total number of colors.
While the terms “needlepoint”, “tapestry”, “embroidery” and “needlework” are all related, the correct English description for Gobelin is “needlepoint”: this refers to a particular set of stitching techniques worked upon stiff openwork canvas. “Needlepoint” is not synonymous with all types of embroidery. Needlepoint is often referred to as “tapestry” but differs from true tapestry, which is woven on a loom, rather than stitched on canvas. When worked on fine weave canvas in tent stitch, it is also known as “Petit point”, from French.
When referring to handcrafted textile arts which a speaker is unable to identify, the appropriate generalized term is “needlework”.
The Gobelin originated in the manufactures by the same name, in France and were a form of intricate tapestry.
The modern Gobelins are a form of craft work by needle stitching. It is different from the well-known “cross stitch” like going from the kindergarten of needle work, to university. First of all the Gobelin requires a more complex technique, large number of colors (anywhere from maybe 20 to 90) and intricate patterns, a finer point called “petit point”, which results in a type of work that from a distance is hardly distinguishable from an oil painting. And maybe that is why a great number of goblins are replicas of well-known painting masterpieces.
nowadays apart from the Gobelin classics such as reproductions from Fragonard, Monet or van Gogh, you can have a family photo, or your favorite holiday shot digitized and printed on canvas ready for you to sew into a beautiful Gobelin piece.
The classic Gobelins will give a touch of class to your home, or you may turn to original contemporary designs or personal photography if you prefer a modern look for your home.
Whatever you may choose, the Gobelins are a durable work of art that will last for generations, while they carry with them the passion for harmony and beauty of the person who has sewn them. This is why I call them “an art for eternity”.
Modern-day gobelins emerged along with a textile factory in Paris, named after a family of French dyers. The enterprise began in the mid-15th century, when Jean Gobelin and Philibert Gobelin set up a dye works on the outskirts of Paris. The family business flourished, and in the early 17th century King Henry IV of France turned the works into a tapestry factory under Flemish weavers. The luxurious products of the Gobelins factory became so famous that the establishment was taken over in 1662 by King Louis XIV’s finance minister Jean Baptiste Colbert to form part of the Royal Manufactory of Furniture. Colbert placed the French painter Charles Lebrun in charge, and he commissioned designs by the best artists of the day, setting high standards of execution and encouraging the training of new artisans. The result was an outpouring of magnificent hangings, upholstery, and furniture in a richly ornate, baroque style.
The Gobelins factory closed from 1694 to 1699, owing to the Crown’s financial difficulties. It reopened solely to make tapestries and has continued, with a brief interruption during the French Revolution, ever since. With the years, styles changed to rococo, neoclassical, and modern. In 1825 the factory absorbed the Savonnerie rug works, founded in 1627. It is now officially called the Manufacture Nationale de Gobelins.