by Liza Laserow
Wallpaper during the Renaissance could be translated to: Larger tapestry to hang on a wall with a motif made by an artist. The word tapestry comes from the Italian word “tapette” that means rug or cover. In Sweden the word has existed since 1541 and was called “Gobeläng” after the Gobelin family who were known for their weavers and yarn dyer – skills. 1662 the French government established a tapestry factory in the same building as Gobelin family had used, meaning the tapestry became a government industry from the 17th Century. As inspirations for the tapestry patterns the weavers used painted panels with motifs sourced from certain pattern books. Sweden had a domestic production of tapestry but after closing its last shop ca 1614 the beautiful wall decor was imported from Holland, France and England.
The tapestries were used to hang on walls but also to decorate benches and chests. Not only did they bring color to the room, they also gave the stone walls a form is isolation in the drafty renaissance castles. When families were moving from one castle to another the tapestries followed their owner and so did the weavers. The same technique was also used to make custom upholstery for chairs made during the 17th Century (last picture).