Tapestry tradition in Portugal

Tapestry tradition in Portugal
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According to info got by StampNews.com Portugal Post issued a series of stamps illustrating the beauty of its tapestry. The release consists of six stamps that were put into circulation on the 24th of October. CTT Correios de Portugal, owner of 11 Portalegre Tapestries, decided to issue these commemorative stamps as a tribute to the weaver artisans of Portalegre and the entrepreneurial spirit and extraordinary vision of Guy Fino and Manuel Celestino Peixeiro.

Portugal is a country with a great textile tradition and although many of its epic feats have been represented in tapestry, these were always commissioned from France or Flanders. In fact until the 18th century there was no Tapestry tradition in Portugal. After the 1755 earthquake, which destroyed a large part of those pieces, the Marquis of Pombal decided to set up two tapestry factories, one in Lisbon and the other in Tavira, both of which unfortunately did not outlive him.

Portuguese tapestry was only reborn some two centuries later, in 1948, in Portalegre. Portalegre tapestries only gained widespread recognition and acceptance in 1952, thanks to the French tapestry weavers who came to Portugal for a major exhibition called "French tapestry – from the Middle Age to the Present". At the same time as the French tapestry exhibition, Guy Fino exhibited at SNI two tapestries by Guilherme Camarinha for the Government of Madeira and dared to do something unprecedented until then – next to each tapestry he displayed the cartoon that had originated them.

Portalegre tapestries are always born of a painter's original. It is the transposition of that work of art to another support and scale. But more than a simple reproduction, tapestry is also, on its own, an original work of art for its qualities. Portalegre tapestries are woven by hand on vertical looms. This technique differs from the French one in that it consists of a simple crossing of the threads from the warp and those from the weft, while in the Portalegre technique the decorative weft completely involves the warp's threads, leading to a density that can vary from 2,500 to 10,000 stitches/dm2. This fact gives the Portalegre tapestries greater strength over that of the French.

The Portalegre technique allows one to define small details and obtain very precise shapes. There are already more than two hundred national and foreign artists who have seen their works transposed into tapestry at the Manufactura de Tapeçarias de Portalegre (Portalegre Tapestry Manufacture).

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