In an extremely exciting turn of events, two medieval tapestries, which have been on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for the past 60 years, have recently returned to their rightful home of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, for the remainder of 2021. The 11-meter Devonshire hunting tapestries, supposedly for their ownership by the Devonshire family for nearly 500 years, will be on display for public reading in the Baroque family headquarters’ Sculpture Gallery, which opened in accordance with the lifting of restrictions on May 18.

Visitors can access the tapestries with tickets to the house and gardens and take the rare opportunity to glimpse these relics of 15th century domestic decoration. Rare, because the Devonshire hunting tapestries are the only large hunting tapestries of the time to have survived.

The surprising richness and saturation of Devonshire hunting tapestries form a worthy palette for any contemporary interior. The clash of the petrol blue draped dresses of the nobles complements the softened sages of the foliage and the warm browns and beiges of the supple animals, living and dead. As works of art in themselves, tapestries impart warmth and texture to an interior, as well as an imposing presence that establishes and founds a room, hallway or stairwell. You could just imagine the most elegant, eclectic, tea-tinged English living room, built on those classic, heirloom colors, perhaps with a tapestry of its own.

Chiefs, a firm of real estate advisers, realtors and auctioneers, reported recent growth in the value of antique tapestries, which director Brett Tryner says was sparked by the growing trend for patterns and colors in home, led by designers who work today. However, Tryner notes that this increase in demand is a reflection of the age-old roller coaster of public perception experienced by these seemingly polarizing works.

He says: “There was a resurgence of interest in tapestries in the 19th century when Morris & Co produced a series for home interiors suitable for the Arts & Crafts movement. However, tapestries fell out of favor in the 1960s when clean lines became the order of the day and tastes turned to more minimalist Danish and Scandinavian furniture makers. During this period, tapestries were sold off or relegated to attic rooms and left to collect dust. At this point, tapestries could be purchased despite their condition or age, perhaps for only a few hundred pounds. ”

Now, Tryner tells me, those same tapestries sell in the thousands: “For example, the two green tapestries that were sold in the April sale made about four times their estimates, both sold to private buyers.

designer Pandora Taylor

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A project by designer Pandora Taylor


For many of the greatest interior designers, antique tapestries dotted with medieval references, stylized foliage, buttressed castles and mounted knights can be used to bring old-world charm to more contemporary rooms. In such design projects, the contrast between more contemporary pieces near an antique tapestry can be striking. Tryner says: “Although tapestries were originally created to cover large drafty walls and to be lit by candlelight, they are now the perfect backdrop for more modern furniture, even in small properties.

Camilla Clarke, Creative Director of the London Interior Design Studio Albion North, also believes that “the juxtaposition of a thickly woven tapestry in a light and contemporary setting has an incredible impact, emphasizing its charm and beauty”. Albion Nord’s work often uses the pleasant contrast between the old and the new and in many recent projects the tapestries have brought instant richness and grandeur. Clarke says, “Tapestries can add as much to a room as they can vessels for story and storytelling executed with the utmost skill. A clear and crisp space around the artwork will emphasize the details and skills involved in the piece.

For Albion Nord, which was recently commissioned by developer Qatari Diar to design townhouses in Chelsea Barracks, hanging tapestries involve a loose rule of scaling. Clarke says, “When hanging a tapestry, consider the scale of the room and the source options that generously fill the walls. Scaling with standout pieces like tapestries and artwork is a general rule of thumb we use to make sure every piece in our projects is full of beauty items. There is nothing worse than a piece of furniture or a piece of art that is too small!

Tapestry adorns a living room in Kensington, London, designed by North Albion


As with any valuable antique, first-time buyers may be wary when it comes to choosing and investing in the tapestry of their dreams. There are companies such as Watts of Westminster which offer a range of tapestry-inspired textiles and wall coverings using sophisticated digital photomosaic photography to give century-old decors a democratized new life, giving decorators more conservative options. For example, its range of Tableaux Scéniques wall coverings and fabrics is derived from original historical sources, including works held by the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie in Aubusson, France. Design company Andrew Martin’s collaboration with the designer Kemp Kit, also features a collection of hunting tapestry inspired murals, available in panels for easy application.

For those looking for the real thing, Pandora Taylor, a London-based interior designer, suggests using caution when shopping for tapestries online. “There are so many reproductions claiming to be antique,” ​​she says. “Make sure you see them in person, but don’t be put off by worn or frayed pieces, as this only adds to the charm and can often make them more affordable.”

Tryner advises those who buy antique tapestries to keep an open and tolerant mind and a less than perfect state should be forgiven in most circumstances. Tryner’s last tip is to look for a strong color.

He said, “This indicates that it has not been too bleached because it hangs in direct sunlight. For people who buy an antique tapestry, it’s important to understand that many of them haven’t stood the test of time too well. Thus, a less than perfect state can be forgiven in many circumstances. However, look for a good color element, with one that ideally hasn’t been over-bleached if it has been exposed to direct sunlight, or more damaging damage such as moths.