The Industrial Arts in Spain Part 51

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1500. Vega, Felicis de Madrid.

1563. Villegas, Nicolas de Granada.

1502. Xaques, el Maestro Toledo.


The manufacture of tapestry or carpets was introduced into Spain by the Arabs. The earliest historical information which I have been able to find relating to this industry occurs in Edrisi, an oriental author of the beginning of the 12th century, ["Descrip. de l'Afr. et de l'Esp., trad. de Dozy el Goeje,"] when speaking of Chinchilla in the province of Alicante, he says: "On y fabrique des tapis de laine qu'on ne saurait imiter ailleurs, circonstance qui depend de la qualite de l'air et des eaux." In mentioning Cuenca, he says: "Les tapis de laine qu'on y fait sont d'excellente qualite," p. 237. Although we find very few descriptive details of this industry, it is undoubtedly the fact that in a wide zone which comprehends from the kingdom of Valencia until that of Granada, carpets have been constantly made; for even in the present day this industry is alive in a number of towns, where not only the old technical proceedings are continued, but also much of the primitive character of the designs and colours. In confirmation of this, I find frequent mention in books and MSS. of the 16th century of carpets of Letur, made in the kingdom of Murcia, Alcaraz, and Baeza.

The first time I find this industry mentioned by Christian authors is in Francisque Michel's work on "etoffes de Soie," vol. i., p. 292; he says: "A une epoque qu'il nous serait difficile de preciser un poete Latin vantait les teintures precieuses a sujets, et les tapis d'Espagne."

"Tunc preciosa suis surgunt aulaea figuris.

"Ac in se raptis ora tenent animis.

"Tunc operosa suis _Hispana tapetia_ villis.

"Hinc rubras, virides inde ferunt species."

At the cathedral of Gerona an extremely interesting tapestry of the 12th century may be seen, which may have been made in the locality.


This tapestry is about 4 yards wide by 4 yards high. The composition represents the Genesis. In the centre is a geometrical figure formed by two concentric circles. In the lesser circle is a figure of Christ holding an open book, on which appear the words, _Sanctus Deus_, and on each side _Rex fortis_, surrounded by the inscription, _Dixit quoque Deus, Fiat lux, Et facta est lux._ In the larger circle are the words, _In principio creavit Deus coelum et terram, mare et omnia quae in eis sunt, et vidit Deus cuncta quae egerat et erant valde bona._

The s.p.a.ce between the two circles is divided by radiating lines into eight portions, in which are represented the Mystic Dove, the angels of light and darkness: the division of land from water, the creation of sun, moon, and stars, of birds, fishes, and beasts, and of Adam and Eve.

In the angles outside the larger circle are the four winds, and the whole is surrounded by a border, imperfect in parts, containing representations of the months, and apparently of certain scriptural incidents, too much defaced to be clearly made out. The accompanying engraving, though imperfect and inaccurate in some of its details, gives a general idea of this work.

Although this tapestry is embroidered with crewels on linen, it appears advisable to include it in the description of Spanish tapestries, owing to its similarity and general aspect to other tapestries. It is easy for students of Spanish works of art of the Middle Ages to fix the period and style to which this example belongs. Several remarkable illuminations exist in Spain representing the Apocalypse which were painted in the X. XI. and XIIth. centuries, which have already been alluded to in other articles of this work. The figures of the tapestry of Gerona are disposed in a precisely similar manner to the miniatures of the 12th century. They are in the same style as the paintings on the ceiling of the chapel of St. Catalina, at St. Isidoro of Leon, which were painted at that period. There can be therefore no doubt that they belong to that period and style. Several MSS. may be mentioned to further ill.u.s.trate the subject. An excellent specimen is at the cathedral of Gerona, those at the National Library, Museo Arqueologico, and Academia de la Historia, Madrid, Escorial, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris--and especially the fine MS. at the British Museum (Add. II.

695),--dated A. D. 1109, referred to in the chapter on Arms, page 90.

The illuminations of this volume are extremely similar to the design of this tapestry. Plate 83, twelve inches by eight, within a circle, representing Christ holding a book in his hand, may be given as an example.

I do not find any information of a later date which suggests the existence of the manufacture of tapestries in Spain during the Middle Ages. There are constant allusions to the splendid tapestries which were brought from Flanders, many of which are at the Royal palace of Madrid.

The earliest mention I find is a memorial printed without date, in which Pedro Gutierrez, tapestry maker of Salamanca, asks Philip II. to protect this industry. He evidently gained his object, for in the doc.u.ments published by S^{r}. Cruzada in his "Tapices de Goya," [Madrid, 1870,] it appears that in 1578 Queen Dona Ana appointed him to work in her Camara as tapestry maker to make _reposteros_[B] and Philip II. in 1582 confirms this appointment. Gutierrez worked at this period, at Salamanca and Madrid. He was succeeded in his charge in 1625 by Antonio Ceron, who established this industry definitively in the Calle de Santa Isabel at Madrid. The fine picture by Velasquez, at the Madrid Gallery, "The Weavers," which represents the interior of the tapestry manufactory, belongs to this time. We find this industry soon fell into decay. In 1694 a Belgian named Juan Metier tried to revive it, but without success; the same thing occurred with Nicolas Hernandez, a tapestry maker of Salamanca, in 1707.

[B] Reposteros is the ancient name given to the hangings which are placed outside the balconies on state occasions in Spain. Several splendid examples of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may still be seen at the houses of Spanish grandees, of which those belonging to the Conde de Onate and Marques de Alcanices at Madrid are the most remarkable for their artistic design.

The tapestry manufactory of Santa Barbara at Madrid was founded soon after; it was the most important of all, and continues to produce excellent work in the present day. It appears that Jacobo Vandergoten of Antwerp was engaged expressly by the king; he began to work in 1720, and continued there until his death in 1724. He was succeeded by his sons, Francisco, Jacobo, Cornelius, and Adrian, who worked in _ba.s.se lisse_ looms until 1729, when a Frenchman, Antonio Lenger mounted a _haute lisse_ one.

On the occasion of the temporary removal of the court to Seville, the king established a tapestry manufactory there in 1730; Jacobo Vandergoten was put at the head of it, and the painter, Andres Procaccini, helped him in the direction of the manufactory. It only lasted three years, at the end of which the artists returned with their implements to establish themselves in the old tapestry manufactory of the Calle de Santa Isabel: and continued to work there until 1744, at that time they again joined the works at Santa Barbara.

Three of the brothers Vandergoten were already dead in 1774. Cornelius alone was alive. In the same year the Spanish artists, Antonio Moreno, Domingo Galan, Tomas del Castillo, and Manuel Sanchez were placed at the head of these works, under the superintendence of Sanchez, who continued there until his death in 1786, when he was succeeded by his nephew, Livinio Stuck. This manufactory was much neglected at the end of the last century; it was destroyed by the French in 1808, and was rehabilitated in 1815 under the direction of a son of Stuck. This family continues to work there in the present day. The carpets made at the manufactory of S^{ta.} Barbara are of the highest excellence and artistic order.

Very fine tapestries have been made at this manufactory during the last century, some after original cartoons of excellent painters and others reproductions of ancient Flemish ones belonging to the royal collections. During the years 1721 to 1724 the tapestries representing pastoral subjects after Teniers were woven there, and a series of hunting subjects which still exist at the Pardo and palace of Madrid.

The excellent copy of the series of tapestries representing the conquest of Tunis, after cartoons by William Pannemaker were made partly at Seville and partly at Santa Isabel and Santa Barbara. The tapestries representing scenes from the life of Don Quixote, designed by the painter Procaccini, were also made at the looms of Santa Barbara.

Fine carpets in the Turkish style were made there under the superintendence of Cornelius Vandergoten, who excelled in this special industry. Carpets also in the French style of the Gobelin manufactory were made at the same time. The best specimens of carpets and tapestries of the manufactory of Santa Barbara, will be found at the palaces of the Escorial, the Pardo, and Madrid. The series made from cartoons of Teniers and the Spanish painter Goya are extremely interesting. A complete collection of photographs of the foreign and Spanish tapestries at the palace of Madrid will be found in the Art Library of the South Kensington Museum.


It is not easy to give a clear idea of the history of the manufacture of ancient Spanish lace; the princ.i.p.al reason being that this industry was carried out by private persons, who never formed themselves into Guilds or corporations, as was the case during the middle ages and Renaissance period with those who devoted their time to other arts and industries.

We find in the Royal Ordinances constant references to weavers, silver and goldsmiths, tailors, etc., but in none do we find the manufacture of lace mentioned. The most important Ordinances relating to Spanish industries are those published at Toledo and Seville in the 15th and 16th centuries, and at Granada in the 16th and 17th centuries, and in none of them do we find lace even alluded to. In the innumerable laws which appeared from the middle ages until the 18th century for the object of reforming costumes and checking their excessive luxury no mention is made of lace; when it is referred to, it is only when _puntas_ or _entredoses_, edgings or insertions, are mentioned in which gold and silver are introduced. We never find any allusion in contemporary writers to the fine heavy thread lace, sometimes called Point d'Espagne or Point de Venise, the origin of which has been a source of so much doubt to collectors of the present day.

The only thing which we can do therefore at the present, until this subject is more fully investigated, is to a.s.sert that lace of different kinds has been made from the very earliest times in Spain, and do our best to cla.s.sify the different kinds by the differences which we observe in those of other localities.

Father Fr. Marcos Antonio de Campos in his "Microcosmia y Gobierno Universal del Hombre Cristiano," [Barcelona, 1592, p. 225,] says: "I will not be silent and fail to mention the time lost these last years in the manufacture of _cadenetas_, a work of thread combined with gold and silver; this extravagance and excess reached such a point that 100 and 1000 of ducats were spent in this work, which, besides destroying the eyesight, wasting away the lives, and rendering consumptive the women who worked it, and preventing them from spending their time with more advantage to their souls, a few ounces of thread and years of time, were wasted with so unsatisfactory a result. I ask myself, after this fancy has pa.s.sed away, will the lady or gentleman find that the chemises that cost them 50 ducats, or the _basquina_ (petticoats) that cost them 300, are worth half their price, which certainly is the case with other objects in which the material itself is worth more." This quotation is interesting as proving that lace was made during the 16th century. The friar, in following the prevalent fashion of preaching against luxury and extravagance, shows us that this industry must have reached to a great height in order to be an object of censure.

From the 16th century until the end of the 18th we find this manufacture continued in Spain, but that foreign lace of different kinds was likewise imported to a great extent, although we may affirm that black lace especially was made in Spain during the whole period.

We find lace mentioned by ancient Spanish authors under the following names: _punta_, _randa_, _cadeneta_, _entredos_, _red_, _deshilado_, _franja_, _blonda_, and _encaje_, which may be translated as edging, or points, reseuil, chain st.i.tch, insertion, netting, ravelling, fringe, blonde, and lace.

M. H. de Cocheris in his introduction to "Patrons de Broderies," Paris, 1872, says that "gold and silver laces were made at Paris and Lyons."

The four books which are reproduced in this volume mention Lyons as being a great centre of this particular branch of industry. Gold and silver lace was, however, also made and copied in Spain during the 17th century. We find in the "Pragmatica y Nueva Orden cerca de los Vestidos y Trajes, asi de Hombres como de Mugeres," [fol. Madrid 1611, p. 5,]

"May we be allowed to border or edge the said silken materials with thread lace, which are not to be made of chain st.i.tch, or gold or silver, and when these laces are mentioned we should understand they are exclusively for women's use." We also find in an Ordinance of the time of Philip III., dated 1623, that gold and silver lace was prohibited, and that "simple edgings, and curls, and fraises for women were enjoined for women's use." In the "Fenix de Cataluna, compendio de sus Antiguas Grandezas y Medio para Renovarlas," Barcelona, 1683, by Narciso Feliu, the author states, p. 75, that "edgings of all sorts of gold, silver, silk, thread, and aloe, is made there with greater perfection than in Flanders."

Many interesting details have reached us of the costume of a Spanish lady in the 17th century. We will copy the description given by Madame d'Aunoy in her "Voyage d'Espagne," Lyon 1628. "Under the vertingale of black taffety they wear a dozen or more petticoats, one finer than the other, of rich stuffs trimmed with lace of gold and silver to the girdle. They wear at all times a white garment called sabenqua; it is made of the finest English lace, and four ells in compa.s.s. I have seen some worth 500 or 600 crowns, and so great is their vanity, they would rather have one of those lace subenquas than a dozen coa.r.s.e ones, and either lie in bed till it is washed, or else dress themselves without any, which they frequently enough do." A number of portraits exist in the Spanish galleries, especially by Velasquez and Carreno, in which these extravagant costumes are fully portrayed, but in very few Spanish portraits of the seventeenth century does thread lace of the kind known as Point d'Espagne or de Venise ever appear. Mrs. Palliser, in her interesting "History of Lace," p. 80, quotes a vast number of descriptions of these gold and silver laces. The celebrated bed at Versailles, the interior lacings of the carriages, the costumes of the gentlemen and ladies of court, and wedding dresses, were all trimmed with this silver and gold lace, either made in Spain, or called Point d'Espagne.

We copy again Madame d'Aunoy's description of a Spanish bed. "It is of gold and green damask lined with silver brocade and trimmed with point of Spain. Her sheets were laced round with an English lace half an ell deep. The young Princess of Monteleon bade her maids bring in her wedding clothes. They brought in thirty silver baskets so heavy four women could only carry one basket: the linen and lace were not inferior to the rest." Beckford, in describing the apartment of a Spanish lady, writes: "Her bed was of the richest blue velvet trimmed with point lace." Aa.r.s.ens de Sommerdyck in his "Voyage d'Espagne," [Paris, 1665,]

writes, in describing the costume worn by the men: "Leurs collets ou cravates sont de grandes pointes, qui sans doute coustent beaucoup, bien qu'elles ne paroissent pas belles. La mode en est presque la mesme qu'en France, l'ayant prise de la princesse de Carignan quand elle estoit a Madrid, dont elles les nomment Valonas a la Carignan." In the interesting "Journal du Voyage d'Espagne," Paris, 1669, l'Abbe Bertaut tells us that on the 15th of October, 1659, on the occasion of his emba.s.sy to Madrid, the king of Spain sent eight postilions, and forty post-horses, the saddles and bridles of eight of which were covered with gold and silver lace.

Notwithstanding the opinion of so competent an authority as Mrs.

Palliser, I doubt the statement, finding no evidence to support it, that thread lace of a very fine or artistic kind was ever made in Spain, or exported as an article of commerce during early times. The lace alb, which is mentioned, to prove this, as existing at Granada, a gift of Ferdinand and Isabel, is of Flemish lace of the 17th century. The chasuble, etc., splendid ecclesiastical vestments embroidered on crimson velvet, were certainly the gift of these kings, and if Cardinal Wiseman officiated in this vestment, it is probable he may have made a mistake and not separated the alb from the chasuble, which certainly may be worth 10,000 crowns. J. Barretti, in his "Journey from London to Genoa, through Portugal and Spain," London, 1770, describing the fine church of Las Salesas, lately built, writes, "The nuns showed me in the sacristy some surplices for the ma.s.s priest, that are made of the finest Flanders lace. Each surplice has cost about 1000 doubloons." In "Ta.s.sa de los Precios a que se han de vender as Mercaderias," Madrid, 1628, we find that the "puntas or edgings made in Spain are to be sold at the same price as those imported from Paris." Puntas from Flanders are estimated in this tariff at a much higher rate than those which were brought from France; we may calculate they were sold for double the price. The "Ordenaciones" made at Barcelona to settle commercial tariffs state in 1704: "As experience has shown us that most of the edgings or puntas made in this princ.i.p.ality are sent out of the country, and we do not find them mentioned in the financial accounts, to the great disadvantage of the community, it is determined--"

We find reference to lace brought from Flanders, Paris, and Lyon, in the first volume of "Apendice a la Educacion Popular," [p. 61.] [Madrid, 1775,] the author mentions the large sums of money which were taken out of the country by the importations of foreign lace, and he adds, [vol.

ii., p. 61,] "Lace is employed to a very considerable extent; all the fine qualities come from foreign lands, and the greater varieties of the coa.r.s.er ones. Spanish matrons, among other branches of their education, are taught to make lace of different kinds, and many respectable people live on this industry." Larruga, in his "Memorias," Madrid, 1788, mentions, vol. ii., p. 149, a manufacture of gold and silver lace which had been set up lately at Madrid; and in the 17th vol., p. 294, in mentioning lace made at La Mancha, "the industry of lace has existed at Almagro from time immemorial. D^{n}. Manuel Fernandez and D Rita Lambert, his wife, natives of Madrid, established in this town in 1766 a manufacture of silk and thread lace." This industry also existed at Granatula, Manzanares, and other villages of La Mancha. At Zamora "lace and blonde were made in private houses. The finest kinds are sold to lace merchants." In Sempere, "Historia del Lujo," [Madrid, 1788, 8vo,]

we find that in the Ordinance issued in 1723, the "introduction of every sort of edgings or foreign laces was prohibited, the only kinds allowed were those made in the country."

Cabanillas writes in his "Observaciones sobre la Historia natural del Reino de Valencia," Madrid, 1797, that at Novelda a third part of the inhabitants made lace, "more than 2000 among women and children worked at this industry, and the natives themselves hawked these wares about the country." Swinburne, in his "Travels in Spain in 1775," also says, "The women of the hamlets were busy with their bobbins making lace."

Laborde writes that in 1809 the manufacture of blonde was almost entirely confined to Cataluna. Barcelona is in the present day the great centre of this industry in Spain; the black and white blondes which are made chiefly for mantillas are very fine. The white laces made there are in the style of Lille and Buckinghamshire laces, Brussels and d.u.c.h.esse laces, and Chantilly is also made to a large extent. Gold and silver blondes were revived during the years 1830-40; and it may interest my readers to know that the late Queen Mercedes, in her wedding trousseaux, had a garniture de robe, mantilla included, of gold blonde.

Modern torchon laces are still made at Almagro to a very large extent.

Bed linen, even in the poorest houses, is elaborately trimmed with lace or embroidery. Valances for beds of ravellings, point coupe and lace work are still constantly found to decorate beds at weddings in the provinces of Spain.


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