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HISTORY

Development of tapestry embroidery

 

  • Gobelin Manufacture in Paris

     


    Weaving pictures is an ancient art. Originally the term Gobelin meant a hand-woven pictorial carpet mainly showing figures. Already in ancient Egypt we find pieces that were burial gifts in a strictly surface-covering ornamental style. In Europe individual pieces dating from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries show that both sacral art as well as the adoration of the royal lines provided weaving impulses at an early stage. Only very few examples from this period have been preserved. In parts we only have indications of such work. This is, on the one hand, due to the material used, i.e. wool which was easily destroyed by moths. On the other hand, however, it was due to the widespread destruction as a result of various acts of warfare at that time.

     

    Woven carpets are produced and differentiated according to two different techniques. First the flat weaving technique where the warp threads run horizontally and then the pile weave technique, in which the warp threads are arranged vertically. The material used was wool, later also silk and spun gold threads. It goes without saying that this considerably increased the value and the preciousness of the finished products. The exclusive use of wool as weaving material is not only due to its easy production and simple processing but also to the efficiency as these carpets were used both as decoration as well as to protect against the cold. In the production of pictorial rugs two things are closely intertwined. On the one hand the art of the artist and on the other the art of the weaver who had to produce the painted picture in a weaving technique as closely as possible to the original. In 1824 the Royal Gobelin Manufactory in Paris included no less than 14,400 shades of colour with which the enormous effect of the pictorial carpets was achieved.

  • Gobelin Manufacture in Paris


    The strictly stylised era of the Romanic – early Gothic period was followed in the course of the 14th century by more of a pictorially playful one that came into its prime at the turn of the 15th/16th century. The most significant successes were without doubt enjoyed by the French, especially in Paris where the dyeing works of the Familie Gobelin were already outstanding for being particularly active in this sector. In 1662 they were bought by Louis XIV and converted into the State Manufactory for Pictorial Carpets. The name GOBELIN then became the top name for pictorial carpets.

  • Peter Paul Rubens


    In France apart from the manufactory in Paris the Manufaktur Royale des Gobelins which was founded in 1664 in Beauvais developed. But it was always outshone by Paris, because at that time centralism was also developing in France which said that only something manufactured in Paris was good. Everything else that was not from Paris was provincial. Gobelin or tapestry weaving was also gaining significance outside of France during the 16th century. Brussels shot up like a comet in the skies to become the new tapestry metropolis. Most certainly Raffael had a great influence on the spread of the Brussels tapestries. His Acts of the Apostles was produced on one of the most famous Brussels weaving looms. In 17th century it was then Peter Paul Rubens who decisively endowed this art with his own skills. Just when the Brussels weavers were at the peak of their renown, the favour of society turned away from Brussels towards France again.

  • The art of woven gobelin tapestries flourished


    With the beginning of the 18th century the transition from baroque to the fanciful rococo was complete. The taste of society changed again and with it art also changed. The pictorial rugs lost a part of their function that they had had for centuries. As wall coverings they were replaced by other materials. Tapestries adapted to the situation by becoming a precious piece of decoration within the home; to fulfil this function it was, naturally, necessary to comply with the taste of the time. During this time in particular, apart from Carlo Coypel, Francois Boucher was in high favour with his creations. His topics were the favourite motifs of the gallant period – pastoral scenes and his masterpiece The Loves of the Gods – came onto the weaving looms of the manufactory for the first time in 1758.


    The particular attraction of the tapestries of the 18th century could be found in the alentours. These were woven frames that thanks to their refined composition and design led all parts of the tapestry to an impressive interplay. Before it was the motif of the picture, now it was the whole piece that gained its effect from the framing; this meant that the tapestry had been awarded a permanent place as wall picture and room decoration. Besides the development of the French, Flemish and Italian works we can even find a corresponding flourishing of the art of tapestry weaving. The German princely families became supporters of this type of art towards the end of the 17th century.


    However, with the 19th century the tapestry wall decoration had still survived. The final downfall of this work came about, last but not least due to the invention of the jacquard machine, with which genuine tapestry weaving was imitated.

  • Change in embroidery

     

    During the Biedermeier period between the Vienna Congress (1814-1815) and the March Revolution (1848) professional embroidery on the whole lost its significance as a decorative art for ornamenting clothing and the palaces of the rich and mighty of this world.

    In addition in 1804 came the invention of the Jacquard weaving loom with the help of which complicated patterns could be made on an industrial basis. Also industrial fabric printing became possible so that the art of picture embroidery could be easily imitated.


    As a result of the beginning industrial development there was a middle-class society that was becoming increasingly wealthy. The ladies of that society had more time to devote to enhancing their homes with various artistic crafts. The private tapestry embroidery could be seen in armchair, settee and cushion covers. Hand-embroidered bellpulls operated the bell with which domestic staff were called to service. The professional production of wall-covering embroidery in tapestry, petit point and cross-stitch was adapted to the taste and the require-ments of the gentry. The ladies of the bourgeoisie were able to earn a modest living as hand embroiderers or also with operating embroidery machines.


    Berlin established itself as the centre of the production of numerical pat-terns on cartridge paper for this type of embroidery. A fine rayon staple fibre of high quality, known as zephyr yarn and also produced in Berlin, was able to compete with the English embroidery wool. „Berlin Wool Work“ became a major export product to the rest of the world. Between 1840 and 1850 there were more than twenty companies in Berlin producing embroidery patterns and these were said to have produced thousands of different patterns. There were other branches of industry such as canvas factories, dealers in embroidery accessories and silk merchants.


    As part of this tradition the company Jacob Wiehler was founded in 1893, also in Berlin. Today pattern drawings on cartridge paper can be found in the company’s archives and also some colour samples of the old rayon staple fibre yarns have survived the destruction of two World Wars, as well as the flight and banishment of the Wiehler family.

  • Production of fine works of handicraft art

     

    Hand embroidery has almost completely lost its significance as a craft. Whether justifiable or not, over the years it has been tainted with the reputation of long being a major factor in the education of young ladies who were damned to non-independency as eternal housewives. In nationally and regionally differing intensity hand-embroidery has survived as a hobby. Whereas in the USA thanks to the „Society of Decorative Arts“ socalled „Embroiderers’ Guilds“ were founded throughout the land.

     

    These were devoted to teaching and upkeeping many old embroidery techniques. The art suffered serious setbacks in many parts of the highly industrialised Western Europe (with the exception of Great Britain which also has many active guilds). With decreasing demand the range of qualitatively high-class materials also sank, a fact that people who are now taking up the old techniques again such as e.g. parament embroidery, very much regret. With regard to picture embroidery this clearly intensified the age-old challenge of producing a successful synthesis between the painted original and the embroidered replica. Ironically, in times in which there is hardly a technical limitation to the production of fine colour shadings in embroidery yarns, business economic considerations limit the range of finely adjusted yarn shades available more than ever before. In order to be able to link up in some form with the artistic tradition of picture embroidery as a pleasant alternative to many technical, simply produced yet striking illustrations, it is necessary to find a compromise between material suppliers and tapestry specialists. Only far removed from strictly economic considerations can one experience the joy of still being able to offer ambitious private embroidery enthusiasts the colour ranges and fabrics that are conducive to producing fine works of art with needle and thread.

  • Quo vadis?

     

    Our present times are characterised by a progressing compaction of all life’s processes. People are becoming more and more the object of the complex links between professional and private life. There is therefore an increased longing for a counter-balance, for a private sphere of tranquillity, contemplation and simplicity. Producing creative handicrafts is one possibility of fulfilling this longing. Apart from pleasure in the activity itself, a kind of confrontation with oneself also takes place when doing handicrafts of this kind. The human being who is forced into so many situations in life, threatens to act against his innermost convictions and to lose himself in doing so, can find himself again in the tranquillity of and concentration on the creative activity.

     

    Embroidery already had this function in ancient times. In the convents it was always considered a type of meditation. Particularly as a consequence of our current way of life, embroidery could experience a special opportunity for an unsuspected comeback. Picture embroidery with its high number of stitches and colour shades and its special expressiveness – depending on the motif design – can certainly pay a very special contribution towards this..

 

 

The tradition behind the Wiehler Gobelin company

 

  • White linen business in Berlin


    Just over 100 years ago on 1st April 1893 Jakob Wiehler founded a linen business in Berlin. Included in his range of products were also needlework items which he offered to the public through  advertisements in magazines.


    These fashion magazines were read in Germany, Austria, the Balkan states and Southern Russia and brought in orders. The first catalogue appeared with cushion covers, tablecloths, wall hangings and tapestry pictures.


    At the time these pictures were Delft patterns in crossstitch. With the help of squares, counting patterns were produced. The Wiehler tapestry pictures are still embroidered today using these patterns.

  • 84 pages in length


    Soon the picture business gained top priority. From 1907 onwards the business developed so well and mail-order supplies increased to such an extent that in 1914 a catalogue was brought out with 72 printed pages.


    During the course of the 1914/18 World War the company, of course, encountered problems that brought the mail-order business to a complete standstill. Not until after the inflation period could the original form of the catalogue business be restored and extended by Kilim, Sudan and Smyrnawork so that in Autumn 1928 a new 84-page catalogue was presented.

  • The Last Supper

     

    On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the company in 1933 the special item "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci was included in the range on
    offer and has remained one of the most interesting and popular pictures until this present day.

     

    The outbreak of the 2nd World War again caused the temporary closing of the business. Only the connections with Bulgaria and Yugoslavia were re-cognised as important for currency purposes and ensured that fabrics and yarns could still be allocated to the company right up till the end of the War.

     

    During the last few days of the War, the company was completely burned down during bombing raids. As if by a miracle the valuable documents for counting patterns and yarn assortments had been sealed into the walls of the owners private house and therefore escaped destruction. After the War, the owner succeeded in rescuing the valuable items from Berlin and to restart business in Buxtehude. News soon spread among the old customers that the company was in a position to supply at least canvasses and yarns again. It was these faithful customers who gave the company courage and new energy once more.

  • Move into new premises


     

    In 1970 the demand for Wiehler tapestry pictures was so great that the meanwhile 72-year-old owner, Dr. Rudolf Wiehler, sold his business in order to retire. The new owner, Mr. H.-J. Beck, realised that his main task was to bring out a catalogue again and to restore the counting patterns that had not been printed for many years to their old form and to publish them. After much hard work he finally succeeded in 1972 in publishing the first catalogue after an interval of 30 years.

     

    The counting patterns – even though they were still in the old form – were printed again as reproductions. In order to improve them a completely new procedure was conceived and a new form found that even today hardly leaves anything to be desired. Even the old assortment of colours was revived by introducing new dying processes. It was now possible to design new motifs and therefore to continue and supplement the old assortment.

     

    Also the customers who already had a large number of embroidered pictures, discovered the incentive to embroider new pictures. At the same time the business found additional marketing outlets through advertisements in Europe and overseas. These drew attention to the existence of the company Wiehler Gobelinbilder in Buxtehude, the direct successors of Messrs. Jakob Wiehler, Berlin. Their success confirmed these measures.The lovers of the Wiehler tapestry embroidery increased in number to such an extent that it became necessary to move into new premises in order to have more space for working on the pictures. A new building was erected in the Stader Strasse 32 in Buxtehude and the company moved in in the spring of 1975.

  • Artistic ambitions 1980 New cross-stitch range


     

    It became apparent that one of the special capabilities of the Wiehler Gobelin company was its ability to offer fine work and therefore to follow up the tradition of picture embroidery.

     


    From this concept the first two icons originated as a visible result of the planning of this new collection. Since then icons have been enjoying such popularity with the customers that the range of religious motifs meanwhile includes 16 icons.

     


    Each of them requires far more than 85,000 stitches. Wiehler Gobelin uses its experience in the field of finest embroidery in particular to offer ambitious embroiderers a fabric with 14 stitches per centimetre on which tapestries can be embroidered as miniatures. These minute works are really works of art on which it is hardly possible to recognise the stitch structure. Parallel to this the cross-stitch range that has been offered in our special catalogue has been developed even further.

  • During this year there was reason for many festivities within the Wiehler Gobelin company. The owner, Mr. Hans-Jürgen Beck, celebrated his 70th birthday and the company celebrated its centenary.

     

    It brought out a centenary catalogue that has remained our basic catalogue to this very day. The centenary was also intended as an opportunity to make visible the extent of the collection that has gradually grown over the years, at least to the regional customers.

     

    In the nearby Moisburger Amtshaus- a beautiful historic building – in collaboration with an associated antiques dealer and also a florist friend, an exhibition was opened that was so elaborately decorated that it is still talked about today by many customers.

  • Uncertain times 2003/4


     

    Even though the owner of the Wiehler Gobelin company, Mr. H.J. Beck, was deeply concerned about the fate of the business and wanted nothing more longingly than the continuation of this long business tradition, he still had to admit that his slowly deteriorating health was no longer sufficient to lead the Wiehler Gobelin successfully into a new era.

     

    He therefore decided with great regret to announce the closure of the Wiehler company. In this way he at least wanted to ensure that a divestiture of the collection as a result of the sale of parts of the company could be avoided.

     

    The dismay that his news caused among customers and the many personal requests for him to reconsider his decision surprised him to such an extent that he could not bring it over himself to put the original plan for closure into effect. Despite the advice of his doctors and his family H.J. Beck decided to hang onto his life’s work and to continue keeping in contact with the customers of the Wiehler Gobelin Company. So in November 2004 he informed his customers that the closure of the Wiehler Gobelin Company need no longer be feared.

  • Change of owner 2005
     
     

    After the death of Mr HJ Beck took his daughter, Jutta Böttcher the company's fortunes.

    By the announcement of the closure in 2004, the Wiehler regular customers have covered with embroidery kits, so they were supplied for a long time. Thus, it was difficult to bring newly developed embroidery designs and kits for despite the many publications of the stick friend. This meant that the company was not just restricted to the staff reduction, also contributed. Parts of the collection could not be maintained, so that the cross stitch range has significantly reduced. There were many different publications in which the company had recommended Wiehler their customers. Part of this publication was summarized in a beautiful book and will now be sent as a supplement to Gobelinkatalog.

  • The company's founder Wiehler Gobelin, Jacob Wiehl, was in 1907 a pioneer of the then revolutionary unusual form of catalog sales. This spirit, to meet the customers where they are at home, feels the company is committed and still is this commitment with a comprehensive, multilingual and user-friendly designed WebShop complied.

    It has always been the understanding of the company Wiehler Gobelin, a very personal contact with the customers and also maintain it
    was arrested. The loyalty and a sense of the customers have long give rise to a kind of "Wiehler family". Clearly demarcates towards those who just recently about the abuse of the seemingly ailing brand "Wiehl" sought to enrich

    Consistently operated international trademark protection is an end to such efforts, so Wiehler customers can rest assured, original Wiehler to obtain products from Buxtehude. Extensive newspaper articles where customers shared their passion of the stitching, the company recently reached. They showed that even the Wiehlerschen embroideries are likely to give those leisure and contemplation, which is now sought in particular. This need has been given unconditional compliance. In addition to the classic Wiehler line was established in 2007 in the fine art, but in a unique motif design a product line under the name "Aurum Cordis" introduced.

    2006 - 2012

    As before, the customers of the house Wiehler Gobelin are found throughout the world. This is also reflected in the use of the website, which is now part of a contemporary exterior appearance.

    They will contact all those people who feel the desire to embark on the stitching on a very personal experience with a symbolic level of one's own life story. Feedback and active exchange to are welcome and part of a new, very personal way with our customers.

  • 2012 sale of the company "Wiehler Gobelin"

    On 1 June 2012 the company of Mrs. Jutta Böttcher to the new owner, Heike Wichern was sold. This decision, the company, which was established by the father and known worldwide with its unique embroidery designs is to sell, not much just as easy.

    For the new owner the opportunity arose, a company that she herself had known for years, to give a new face, but also to mix traditional things and new together.

    So now, the website and the shop has been adapted to meet modern requirements. Also in view of the many technical possibilities new embroidery designs will be re-created and also new types of products like tapestry woven carpets and tapestries jacquard cushion and more offered. One could also say, let's go back to the beginnings and hang us a woven rug on the wall.

    Wiehler Gobelin has taken on the task of how to specify the stick friend to a high quality hand work on the hand but also to those who love a tapestry, but you do not want to do it yourself, or offer it as tapestry cushions as Wohnassesoires.