Are you wondering what the threads in the photo above are for? For weaving one of the most remarkable Italian upholstery velvets we’ve ever produced: the one for the audience room in the Dresden Royal Palace.

The eventful history of the Dresden Royal Palace

On the night of February 13th, 1945 World War II saw one of its gravest moments: the bombing of Dresden. The air raid destroyed 90% of the city, razing most of the centre to the ground.

One of the monuments reduced to rubble was the Royal Palace, a Renaissance structure whose first nucleus dates back to the 1400s. But between 1720 and 1730 Augustus II of Poland transformed it into a late-Baroque masterpiece.

The prince-elector of Saxony had indeed visited Versailles when he was young, and its grandeur had fascinated him. So he decided to turn the palace’s state rooms into a worthy competitor to its French model.

Rebuilding the palace

After the end of the war, the palace repeatedly risked being dismantled: the bombs had burnt it to the ground, only its foundations were still standing. Any attempt to restore it seemed impossible.

But it was one of masterpieces of Renaissance in Germany, and this is why people managed to protect it. Finally, in 1986, the local government decided to rebuild it. It’s been a long time since the work has started, but it’ll be hopefully finished by 2019.

This year marks the 300th wedding anniversary of Frederick Augustus, son of Augustus II, and Maria Josepha of Austria, heiress to the Habsburg Empire. And it was on this very occasion that Augustus II renewed the state rooms.

The audience chamber in a 19th-century photo.

The restoration of the fabrics and cut velvet of the audience chamber

The most important of these rooms was the audience chamber, the room containing the throne, under a canopy. Both elements, as well as the walls and the curtains were made of the same crimson velvet.

By analysing the only fragment of these fabrics saved from the fire, restorers discovered that they had been dyed using cochineal. That is the most expensive red dye at that time.

To bring the palace to its former glory, the Dresden State Art Collections decided to create a copy of this 445 metres long upholstery velvet. A mechanical loom wasn’t enough, though: it couldn’t produce a pile as thick as in the original fabric.

This is why they gave this commission to a traditional fabric manufacturer using the same handlooms employed in the 18th century: Tessitura Bevilacqua.

We’re extremely proud of having received this commission and glad of the result we’re getting, whose quality and faithfulness to the original fabric honour us.

One of our weavers working on the Dresden velvet.
References

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

J.C. von Bloh, S. Schneider, 2013, Paradetextilien Augusts des Starken 1697 und 1719: Die roiginale und ihre fadengenaue Rekonstruktion für das Dresdner Residenzschloss, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln.

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