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The oldest ecclesiastical Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Bruchsal Palace

French tapestries in the Hunting Room, Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Dirk Altenkirch
Woven art from France

The tapestries of Bruchsal

Since the 16th century, French royals encouraged the production of tapestries. Such tapestries were among the most important decor in significant rooms in 18th-century court representational culture. The prince-bishops also had their bel étage in Bruchsal Palace expensively furnished.

Bruchsal Palace, detail of a tapestry in the Hunting Room. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Katharina Rohne

The elephant driver from the grotesque series.

An impressive tapestry collection

The prince-bishops of Speyer furnished their residence in Bruchsal with precious tapestries depicting biblical, mythological, and exotic motifs. With seventy tapestries in all, the collection is now one of the largest in Germany. The four tapestries of the six-tapestry grotesque series are particularly impressive. They were made in 1685/1719 by Philippe Behagle (father or son) in Beauvais, in northern France.

Dancers, detail of a tapestry from the grotesque series, Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Dancers, a motif from the grotesque series.

From the Netherlands to France

Henry IV, King of France until 1610, brought about a reform in the production of tapestries. He recruited some masters living in the Netherlands to impart their knowledge to France. Though the French technique using high warp looms facilitated constant monitoring of the work, it was very slow. Working on low warp looms, as was standard in the Netherlands, was much faster. At the same time, the Dutch system of wages was adopted: Instead of paying for hours of work, workers were now paid for the size of completed sections. 

Important factories in France

Both the Gobelin factory in Paris and the factory in Beauvais were among the most important workshops in France. In 1661 and 1664, the factories were named royal factories by King Louis XIV. The factory in Aubusson also achieved great fame. With colorful Asian motifs, the workshop catered to its customers' love for the enchantment of far off lands. In the antechamber of the Amalie's Apartment, four tapestries from the "Exotic Landscapes" series by Aubusson can now be seen.

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"View of the Temple and Waterfall" tapestry from the "Exotic Landscapes" series.

Abigail before David, tapestry from the "Scenes from the Old Testament" series, Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Katharina Rohne

"Abigail Before David" tapestry.

Treasures from Brussels

When touring the bel étage of Bruchsal Palace, visitors can admire French tapestries as well as impressive tapestries from Brussels, such as the tapestries with "Scenes from the Old Testament" from the studio of Martin II Reymbout, active from 1590 to 1619. They are among the oldest tapestries in Bruchsal and were made in Brussels around 1600. There is also an impressive tapestry series entitled "Famous Men According to Plutarch," made around 1735/45 in the workshop of Daniel and Urban Leyniers and Hendrik Reydams in Brussels.

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