European Rugs – The art of rug-making, while traditionally associated with the East, is in fact a global practice that has been ongoing for centuries. Indeed, the history of rug-making in Western Europe is a rich and fascinating story, just as much so as the history of the manufacture of Oriental Rugs. For instance, the history of rug-making in France (one of the first countries in Western Europe to manufacture rugs on a wide scale) is especially compelling. In France, the manufacture of rugs and carpets was initially undertaken by those in service of the King. The Royal rug-makers were commissioned to weave fine pieces beginning under the reign of Louis XIV, known to history as the Sun King.
It would be quite difficult for someone to overestimate just how influential Louis XIV was. Especially his long-lasting impact on French style and sensibilities. It was at this time, during the middle of the eighteenth century, that the Savnonnerie style emerged, as the Royal rug-makers crafted ornate pieces to suit the King’s taste for the elaborate and richly decorative. It was also at this time that the Aubusson style first made its debut on the world stage, crafted as an alternative to the Savonnerie that might have more appeal to a wider range of tastes; rather than being manufactured explicitly for the King, Aubusson rugs were woven to be purchased and to be enjoyed by the French people, especially the French aristocracy.
Shortly after the introduction of the Savonnerie and the Aubusson styles to the world, there was a marked uptick in interest in fine rugs throughout Europe. Suddenly, new styles were emerging throughout the Continent, and the rug-weaving industry was growing rapidly. Soon, the needlepoint embroidery, a European adaption of the from the famed Persian rugs, would emerge. In the following decades (and, ultimately, centuries) a great variety of distinctive European styles of rugs would emerge, solidifying the new European penchant for manufacturing beautiful carpets.