Tapestries

Today, tapestry is widely used to describe a variety of textiles, including embroidery and mechanically-woven fabrics. Historically, tapestry refers to weft faced and often figural textiles woven by hand using a loom. The loom is composed of two rollers that stretch plain warp threads, which form the backbone of the tapestry. Because of its durability, wool was commonly used for the weft threads, whereas a range of materials including wool, linen, and silk, were used for the warp.

Traditional tapestries became especially popular in Europe during the 14th century. In 1384, Philip the Bold inherited the province of Artois in France and decorated his court with tapestries displaying the dynastic, religious, and commercial exploits of his territories. Some of his tapestries, which were made by local weavers and guilds, used gold and silver-lined threads that resulted in a shimmering, iridescent appearance. By the 15th and 16th centuries, royalty and nobility across Europe, Russia, and Asia commissioned elaborate tapestries for display within their churches, castles, and homes. Henry VIII of England, for example, amassed an impressive collection of Netherlandish tapestries to decorate his palaces and country homes.

Tapestry experienced a revival during the 19th century, when William Morris produced modern, innovative tapestries intended for ecclesiastical and decorative purposes. The art of Edward Burne-Jones, a British artist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, served as inspiration for the figures and scenes in Morris' tapestries. Tapestry makers continue to test the limits of the medium today, creating unique works of art with dazzlingly complex patterns and designs.


Quick Facts

  • On November 26, 2014, Christie’s Hong Kong sold an imperial embroidered silk thangka, a tapestry depicting Buddhist deities, for $45,142,597
  • Medieval tapestries drew themes from ancient legends, history, mythology, religion, and sport
  • Some of the oldest tapestries to have survived were made in ancient Egypt in 1500 B.C.

Recommended Items at Auction

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Lot of Five tapestries
Oct 17, 10:00 AM EDT
Lot of Five tapestries
by New Haven Auctions
Est: $250- $500
$1004 Bids
GERMAN WWII DICTATOR ADOLF HITLER BANNER TAPESTRY
Oct 21, 9:00 AM EDT
GERMAN WWII DICTATOR ADOLF HITLER BANNER TAPESTRY
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $80- $150
$1104 Bids
Flemish Verdure Tapestry Border Fragment
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Flemish Verdure Tapestry Border Fragment
by Stair
Est: $400- $800
$2503 Bids
Louis Ernest Guille Still Life Signed Oil on Canvas
Oct 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Louis Ernest Guille Still Life Signed Oil on Canvas
by Atlanta Auction Gallery, ltd
Est: $300- $600
$702 Bids
Antique French Pillowcases (Pair)
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Antique French Pillowcases (Pair)
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $600
$802 Bids
JEAN LURCAT Wall-Hanging Tapestry
Oct 19, 4:00 PM EDT
JEAN LURCAT Wall-Hanging Tapestry
by Bill Hood & Sons Arts & Antiques Auctions
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$1,5001 Bid
Three Philippine Weavings, Mid 20th C.
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Three Philippine Weavings, Mid 20th C.
by Material Culture
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
A Flemish Wool Tapestry
Oct 19, 10:00 AM CDT
A Flemish Wool Tapestry
by Hindman
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$1,0001 Bid
FRENCH AUBUSSON TAPESTRY OF A HUNT SCENE, 18TH C
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
FRENCH AUBUSSON TAPESTRY OF A HUNT SCENE, 18TH C
by Everard Auctions and Appraisals
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$6001 Bid
A Flemish Mythological Tapestry Depicting the Story of Hero and Leander
Oct 19, 10:00 AM CDT
A Flemish Mythological Tapestry Depicting the Story of Hero and Leander
by Hindman
Est: $5,000- $7,000
$2,5001 Bid
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19TH C TAPESTRY
Oct 19, 12:00 PM EDT
19TH C TAPESTRY
by Litchfield Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$2501 Bid
BEN SHEARER (1941 - ) Poseidon, 1971 tapestry 205 x 81 cm signed, dated and titled on label verso
Oct 28, 12:00 PM AEDT
BEN SHEARER (1941 - ) Poseidon, 1971 tapestry 205 x 81 cm signed, dated and titled on label verso
by Lawsons
Est: AUD1,000- AUD1,500
AUD5001 Bid
French style wall tapestry, approx 138cm x 90cm
Oct 31, 4:00 PM AEDT
French style wall tapestry, approx 138cm x 90cm
by Vickers & Hoad
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD101 Bid
18th C French Tapestry
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
18th C French Tapestry
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $600
$701 Bid
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A REGENCY MAHOGANY CARVER CIRCA 1815
Oct 18, 6:00 PM AEDT
A REGENCY MAHOGANY CARVER CIRCA 1815
by Leonard Joel
Est: AUD400- AUD600
AUD3500 Bids
Framed Panamanian Kuna Mola Tapestry
Oct 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Framed Panamanian Kuna Mola Tapestry
by Atlanta Auction Gallery, ltd
Est: $75- $150
$300 Bids
Antique 19th C. Framed Needlepoint Tapestry
Oct 20, 6:00 PM EDT
Antique 19th C. Framed Needlepoint Tapestry
by Napoleon's Fine Art
Est: $100- $500
$500 Bids
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Peruvian 3D Fabric Folk Art w Village Farming Life
Nov 07, 12:00 PM EDT
Peruvian 3D Fabric Folk Art w Village Farming Life
by Neely Auction
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Lot of 3 Frames including Framed Vintage Tapestry of Madonna
Oct 20, 11:00 AM EDT
Lot of 3 Frames including Framed Vintage Tapestry of Madonna
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $75- $150
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Tapestries


Adam's

Adam's

Osenat

Osenat

Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions

Bonhams

Bonhams