Discover Mobilier National

Mobilier national has been supporting arts and crafts and creativity ever since the 17th century. The institution is attached to the Ministry of Culture, and maintains, creates and distributes a unique worldwide collection of over 130,000 pieces of furniture and textiles.

By Mobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

Mobilier national, vue extérieureMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

Mobilier National incorporates the "Garde-Meuble de la Couronne" (the Crown Furniture Repository) which was reorganised by Louis XIV and Colbert. The Mobilier National is responsible for furnishing the properties of the upper echelons of the French Republic, presidential residences and French embassies.

Vue d'une réserveMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

A moveable feast of furniture…

Formerly the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne or the royal furniture repository, the Mobilier National was established in the 17th century, but its roots go back to the earliest days of the French monarchy. Indeed, in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the various palaces of the Capetian monarchs were not permanently furnished. The monarchs travelled from town to town or castle to castle all year round!

Reserve des sièges garnisMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

... going on to create a repository of furniture

Furniture and draperies followed the roaming court. They were installed for when the sovereign arrived in his current residence. 

 One of the king’s valets was responsible for the maintenance, transport and installation of the furniture: these were the origins of the Royal Furniture repository.  The role of steward of the furniture repository was established in 1604 during the reign of Henri IV, and we can consider that this is the moment when the institution took shape.

LicièreMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

Les manufactures de la Couronne (The Crown Factories)

Later, from 1608 onwards, the king set up artisans and artists workshops on the ground floor of Grande Gallery in the Louvre. Other monarchies around the world also had “palace workshops” working for the monarch, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Kremlin in Moscow.

GMTC 165 (1801/1900) by unknownMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The originality of France lay in the fact that, from the outset, setting up workshops in a new wing of the Louvre was part of a wider plan for economic and commercial expansion. Once the religious wars were over, French decision-makers sought ways of stimulating a return to prosperity and the ability to compete with foreign imports.

The “Garde-meuble de la Couronne” was organised during the reign of Louis XIV under the ministry of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Colbert appointed one of his protégés, Gédéon Berbier du Mets, to head up the institution, and he held the position of Intendant General from 1663 to 1709. At his side was a "general guard" who was responsible for the inventory of the collections.

The King visiting the Gobelins (1673/1679) by TapestryMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The purpose of the repository was to store the products of the factories established or favoured by the king and his minister: furniture and tapestries from Les Gobelins, La Savonnerie carpets and Beauvais tapestries. 

Vues de la bièvreMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

La manufacture des Gobelins in Paris was a state-owned company from its inception. It was set up by Colbert in 1662, bringing together existing Parisian tapestry workshops, and setting them up on the site of Les Gobelins, where a dyeing workshop on the banks of the Bièvre had been in operation since the end of the 15th century.

The King visiting the Gobelins (1673/1679) by TapestryMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The aim was to provide a prestigious showcase for the French luxury business of the time, which was constantly striving to compete internationally with rival Italian and Flemish products.

Métiers à tisser de haute-liceMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

Alongside the stonemasons, the minister placed engravers, painters, sculptors, cabinetmakers and specialists in hard stone sculptures under the leadership of the painter Charles Le Brun. An edict of November 1667 gave this "Royal Crown Furniture Factory" its official status. creations adorn the palaces of the Sun King.

Galerie des GobelinsMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The Mobilier National today

Today the Mobilier National has a dual role of both creation and conservation
Its factories and workshops create furniture, lights, carpets, tapestries and lace, from commissioned projects by artists. The projects presented are selected by a "cartoon and model commission" chaired by the Director of the Mobilier National. 

The commission includes representatives of the Ministry of Culture, curators, artists, specialists - art historians, business leaders, gallery owners, etc. - as well as representatives of the Ministry of Culture. - and the heads of the factory workshops. The Mobilier National also acquires works by contemporary designers, original work and published pieces. It also expands its collections by acquiring older pieces on the art market.

Site de consultation des objets du Mobilier nationalMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The Mobilier National is a collection of 130,000 pieces of all kinds: furniture, lights, tapestries, carpets, textiles, ceramics, paintings, etchings and objets d’art. 
This heritage spans more than 5 centuries, from the end of the Middle Ages to the present day. 

Bureau Mazarin par André Charles Boulle by André Charles BoulleMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

but the Mobilier National is not a museum. The vast majority of the collections it maintains are intended to be used in public buildings, both in France and abroad.

Furnishing official buildings

The furniture produced in the workshops of the Mobilier National is intended to furnish and decorate the most important official buildings: the Elysée Palace (the residence of the President of France), the Hôtel de Matignon (the residence of the French Prime Minister), ministries, embassies, and the headquarters of major government agencies.

Exposition Mobilier nationalMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

Pieces in the Mobilier National are also exhibited at exhibitions or placed in museums, castles and historical monuments.

Restauration tapisserieMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

A variety of professions in the realm of furniture

The collections inspectorate and the office of the Mobilier National study the collections, ensure that they are conserved, monitor their circulation and supervise their use by successive custodians. At the same time, the installers/assemblers of works of art ensure the practical handling of the inventory and the way furnishings are stored.

restauration bronzeMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

Restoration workshops

This heritage must be conserved, maintained and restored, and its removal and installation needs to be managed. These tasks have been delegated to seven workshops employing 110 technicians in the field of art: cabinet making, upholstery, chandeliers, carpet restoration, tapestry and decoration.

Creative workshops

The national manufacturers of Les Gobelins, Beauvais and La Savonnerie, as well as the lace workshops of Alençon and Le Puy-en-Velay are part of the Mobilier National. These workshops perpetuate a tradition of excellence and continue to create contemporary pieces today.

Producing contemporary furniture

The Mobilier National is reviving its tradition of publishing its prototypes by entering into partnerships with publishing houses in order to share its creations with as many people as possible. The ARC (Research and Creation Workshop of Contemporary Furniture) also undertakes specific commissions from French or foreign institutions. 

Formation à la broderieMobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The institution provides comprehensive training for stonemasons and carpet and tapestry restorers. It recruits students that it trains in its workshops. 

mobilier32Mobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins, de Beauvais, de la Savonnerie

The promotion of trades in the arts and crafts

At the same time, the Mobilier National has established itself as a leading centre for contemporary creation and the promotion of crafts. It is home to the “Campus des métiers d'art et du design” in Paris - manufacture des Gobelins, awarded the "campus d'excellence" label.

This campus partners with 19 technological and professional high schools, four training centres for apprentices and further education bodies, five public sector agencies and cultural institutions, five higher schools of applied arts (Boulle, Estienne, Duperré, Ensaama, Ensad) and four universities and research centres.

Credits: Story

Mobilier national, d'après les textes de T. Sarmant, M.-H. Massé-Bersani.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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