The Savonnerie, a French workshop housed in a former soap factory in Paris, was dedicated to the production of tapestry-woven or Turkish knotted carpets with floral motifs. Founded in the seventeenth century, it represented an attempt to reproduce the valuable carpets of the East. Louis XIII passed laws to protect French industry, including a ban on importing period oriental carpets.

In 1663, Colbert reorganised the “Savonnerie” ateliers, which in 1826, under Charles X, moved to the Gobelins buildings. Under Charles Le Brun, the first artistic director, the workshop’s activities as a centre of the arts intensified, with production directed entirely toward meeting the needs of the King. During this period, Le Brun supplied the décor for Versailles, as well as the Apollo and Grand Galleries at the Palais du Louvre. His 93 carpets represent the largest proportion of the production of the time.

Under Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Savonnerie remained a centre for the production of top-quality carpets for the castles of Versailles, Bellevue, Trianon, and Fontainebleau, as well as for Louis XV, Marie Leszczynski and the queen’s bedroom at Versailles. After experiencing a number of difficulties during the Revolution, Savonnerie items regained importance under the Empire, with huge carpets produced for the Palais des Tuilleries.

The decorative motifs are generally floral, or are inspired by landscapes and mythology. The prevailing taste is Neoclassical, but many carpets feature Rococo decoration.