The Charlier Museum houses tapestries from Belgium and France that date from the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Yet, workshops in Paris and Arras had a monopoly on the tapestry craft in the 15th century. About 1500, a distinct aesthetic that was greatly influenced by altarpiece painting began to emerge. Tapestries were no longer regarded as mere wall coverings, but rather as priceless works of art. Raphael’s Acts of the Apostles’ entrance in Brussels signifies a significant revolution for the area’s artists in terms of space design.
In the development of Brussels tapestry art, “Le Credo” ushers in a new era. Gothic tapestries are characterised by a dense cast of characters, an attention to detail, heavy drapery with falling folds, and an episodic structure. Contrarily, the border dates to roughly 1500 because this kind of design was not common until close to the turn of the century. The use of brocades, diamonds, and feathers is deserving of the finest Flemish primitives. The trumpet-playing angel on the far right is reminiscent of Roger Van der Weyden’s exquisitely detailed figures, while other well-known faces are reminiscent of Hugo Van der Goes. Several other figures, apostles, and prophets are crucified with Christ. With two angels carrying the instruments of the Passion, Christ pours his blood into the chalices that church authorities have brought to him.
Before generating the full-color, in-depth sketch for an artefact like this, the artisan who was commissioned to make the model would make multiple preparatory pencil or pen sketches. The sketch would typically be scaled up and painted on cardboard at the factory by a few talented painters. The visual model could be translated repeatedly and in novel ways by the tapestry weavers of the golden age of weaving (the 14th to the 16th century), enhancing both its artistic and technical features. The goal of the actual realisation phase is weaving, which forces itself not only as a technical tool but also as a stand-alone artistic tool.
The warp (vertical threads) and the colourful weft (horizontal threads) are intertwined in the simplest way possible to create cloth using the tapestry weaving process. The tapestry weaver needed two different kinds of looms, known as “high heald” and “low heald,” to accomplish this. In both instances, the figures seemed to be lying horizontally in the weft position during weaving; after the tapestry was complete, the image was rotated by 90 degrees. The decision to weave even very wide sections utilizing the tapestry’s height as a base allowed for the literal covering of entire rooms. The warp (left in its natural raw colour) was stretched vertically in the high-heeled loom on two parallel wooden cylinders that were placed one at the weaver’s feet and the other above his head.
A notched rod maintained the threads’ uniform spacing. In order to create two planes of threads—even and odd—the warps were split by rods. The said rod allowed for the introduction of the wooden spindle onto which the coloured weft was rolled, and the front plane was connected to looped cords called “healds” that in turn were joined to said rod. A nib dipped in ink was used to mark the traces of the underlying design on each single thread after the loom was ready. The cardboard was then put next to the warps. The cardboard was placed behind the weaver’s back, and the appearance of a few leading lines in the illustration indicated that the tapestry maker had better interpretive talent. The warp was unwound from the upper cylinder as the fabric was created, compressed, and pressed with a comb, then wound to the bottom cylinder. The low-heald loom similarly included two parallel cylinders and a support structure, but they were set on a flat surface.
Wool, occasionally linen, and in some specific creations silk were typically employed as the warp. Wool, silk, and, less frequently, metallic thread, were utilized as the weft materials (i.e., a yarn consisting of a silk core on which a very thin sheet of silver or gold-plated silver was turned).