La Manufacture de la Savonnerie was a reputed French rug, tapestry and furnishing textiles workshop, founded in an obsolete soap factory (savon meaning ‘soap’ in French) near Paris in the early 17thC by royal decree. It was spearheaded by two French weavers, who set to employ the techniques of the highly sought-after knotted Oriental pile carpets, thus re-directing demand from the Orient. Inspired by Turkish carpets, Savonnerie rugs gradually developed their own distinctive, now very French, designs featuring symmetrically arranged classic, armorial and complex pictorial motifs in central bordered medallions, in opulent colours. Savonnerie rugs were made under the direction of court artists and only with Royal approval, and were foremost intended for palaces and state residences.
Savonnerie rugs were particularly popular in the mid 18thC, and since 1825, have been made as part of the Gobelins factory, available from archives and to commission.
As with Aubusson pieces, well-executed and more affordable copies are also produced in India, China and Pakistan.
Or point noué Savonnerie, the hand-knotted technique by which Savonnerie rugs are made and which is the secret to their great durability.