French Savonnerie Rugs – History and Current Trends

Savonnerie rugs originated in 17th century France with production starting in 1628. They were first manufactured in a former soap factory or ‘savon’ in French, hence the name Savonnerie. These one-of-a-kind rugs were made by artisans of the French royal court and all the rugs manufactured were the property of the Royal Crown. These area rugs were used to decorate the palace and also presented as gifts to diplomats and high ranking government officials.


In the 1600′s, France used to import hand knotted rugs and carpets from Persia. In a bid to cut back on import expense and to encourage the local art of rug weaving, Henri IV granted royal patronage to craftsmen and constructed studios for them in the Louvre gallery. One among these craftsmen was the famous Pierre Dupont, who documented the art of Savonnerie and other French styles of rug weaving in the 17th century.


Some of the best Savonnerie carpets were made between 1664 and 1680 under Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Young orphans were trained in rug making techniques and employed as weavers. In the coming years, the art suffered after financial constraints brought upon by wars. The 18th Century again saw a revival in Savonnerie rug making and newer design elements were added. During the French Revolution, these rugs were preserved carefully in royal storage. The craft received patronage again under Napoleon in 1805. Some of the Savonnerie rugs from that period are housed in France’s Louvre Museum today.


Savonnerie area rugs are very large in size and suited to big rooms with a formal ambience. They are made in textured, knotted piles. The surface of such rugs is smooth and soft. They generally consist of a central medallion and border.


The Neoclassical designs of such rugs include floral patterns, garlands in light shades and a bold ivory field.  There are similarities in the design of Savonnerie and another French rug style, the Aubusson. But the Aubusson is tight-woven, heavier and coarser than the Savonnerie.


Some of these area rugs sold today come in simple and intricate designs. They also come in different shapes such as rectangular, square and circular. They mostly consist of flower motifs with well-defined central medallions. The entire surface of the rug is filled with intricate designs and seldom do you find areas filled only with color. A common design feature among Oriental, Turkish, and Savonnerie styles is the high level of embellishment and intricacy of patterns.


These rugs come in a number of different colors from earthy tones to pastel shades of pink, light green to bright reds, blues and purples. When placed in a room, they become the center of attraction thanks to their sheer magnificence. These rugs make a statement of richness and luxury.


For a slightly subdued look, smaller sized Savonnerie area rugs are also available but the prices of these rugs too can be quite high. If you are keen on buying these rugs, search for a discount online or wait for a good offer from a retailer.


For more information on area rugs and to help choose an area rug design that is right for your home, contact Korhani Rugs.


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