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Red carpet rolled out for Manufacture d’Aubusson Robert Four

No ordinary project for no ordinary atelier: that is how one might describe the challenge taken up by the craftsmen of Manufacture d’Aubusson Robert Four. Three giant rugs, commissioned by a Russian buyer – an art enthusiast appreciative of French heritage – took over a year to be entirely handmade. Covering a total surface area of 417 square metres, the three works were inspired by designs made in an Empire style by Jacques-Louis de La Hamayde de Saint-Ange during the first half of the 19th century.


Three rugs, three predominant colours and three sizes: one red rug, adapted from the Tapis aux Cohortes de la Légion d’Honneur (‘Rug of the Cohorts of the Legion of Honour’), created for the Emperor’s study at Saint-Cloud in 1812, woven to a size of 8 m x 8 m, with a surface area of 64 m²; one pink rug measuring 9.5 m × 14 m, or 133 m²; and one green rug, by far the most impressive, since it earns the title of "largest handmade decorative rug in the world”, measuring 10 m x 22 m, or 220 m².

Manufacture d'Aubusson Robert Four ©

Manufacture d'Aubusson Robert Four©: Robert Four and the atelier staff surround the largest handmade decorative rug in the world, measuring 220m2.

The major task of enlarging the motifs and harmonising the colours led quite naturally to a collaboration between the Aubusson atelier and that of Tunis Carthage. Thus, the complex dying process was carried out in Aubusson, where even today the wool is dyed in the waters of the River Creuse, famed for its purity and mineral content, while the weaving took place in Tunis, where a giant-size loom had to be specially built.


Manufacture d'Aubusson Robert Four©: Tunis Carthage atelier


That collaboration would not have been possible without the involvement of the Manufacture’s director, Daniel Dionnet, who in March 2011 was made a Knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters, in recognition of his skill and dedication to his art.


Over the years, company chairman Pierre-Olivier Four has succeeded in surrounding himself with competent craftsmen who are committed to their trade. Son of the founder, Robert Four, who set up the atelier in 1952, he took over and gave new life to the family business, ensuring that its unique skills be preserved and passed on between the atelier’s twenty weavers and new apprentices.


Manufacture d'Aubusson Robert Four©: Tapis aux Cohortes de la Légion d’Honneur, 64 m2


Specialising in the production of tapestries and rugs inspired by works of art, the Manufacture has a collection of 350 designs inherited from five centuries of tradition: Aubusson was granted the title of Manufacture Royale as far back as 1664. In particular, the atelier uses the technique known as basse lice, which involves weaving horizontally, to produce its works by hand: a template is made from the chosen design, then the dying takes place with successive layers of the three primary colours. As well as historical pieces, contemporary works are also produced, in close collaboration with the artist. Various contemporary artists have proposed their works as designs for the Manufacture d’Aubusson, among them the painters Hervé di Rosa and Patrick Waravka. These creations, veritable works of art, are produced in limited series: eight numbered copies, at least one of which is for the artist. The firm also offers private individuals – the majority of its customers – the opportunity to create their own designs. This international clientele contributes to diffusing what is a typical French art.


Manufacture d'Aubusson Robert Four ©

Manufacture d'Aubusson Robert Four©: Decorative rug after Jacques-Louis de La Hamayde de Saint-Ange, 133 m2


Such a mastery of rare skills and a desire to perpetuate a weaving tradition while at the same time firmly situating it in the present led to the manufacture d’Aubusson obtaining the EPV label in 2006, and being classed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2009, attesting once more to the outstanding nature of each of its works.

25 January 2012