High standards, expertise and excellence
Manufacture Robert Four fosters excellence in art, permeating the entire tapestry sector, ranging from designers, cartoonists, dyers, weavers to seamstresses, all of whom are well versed in the same high standards of quality. Manufacture Robert Four can pride itself on the fact that it has created a unique style, as is clearly demonstrated in its interpretation of artistic works specific to each project undertaken. Thanks to this distinctive style, it has been possible to enable major woven works of art to be part of the history of decorative arts and contemporary art.
Manufacture Robert Four is located in Aubusson, on the Creuse River in the center of France. The certifications ‘Tapis (carpet) d’Aubusson’ and ‘Tapisserie (tapestry) d’Aubusson’, granted by Certipaq (authorized by the French Ministry for Agriculture), can only be awarded to manufactures and workshops in the Creuse département. Four of our products have been awarded this certification : Aubusson tapestries, low-pile carpets, hooked carpets and hand-tufted carpets.
Thirty years ago, Manufacture Robert Four set up workshops in Ezzahra (Tunisia), another historic birthplace of skilled craftsmanship in carpets and tapestry, in order to broaden its range of new projects while maintaining and perpetuating the Manufacture Robert Four style.
In 2022, the company took over Ateliers Néolice, in Felletin, six miles from Aubusson, which perfected the technique of digital weaving using Jacquard looms. Néolice has managed to preserve the skilled nature of its tailor-made creations while making them look as if they are handmade, thereby achieving a feat which is beyond the possibilities of industrial-scale weaving plants.
Manufacture Robert Four provides certificates of authenticity for works of art produced by Néolice which mention the place and production technique used, as well as the artist (or rightful owner) who is the author of the creation.
Our design studio helps the artist to write the cartoon and choose the colors. The cartoon is the weaving interpretation of the model adjusted to the scale of the tapestry. It serves as a bridge between the work of the artist and that of the craftsman. It consists of a black line-drawing on a white background. The line demarcates the shape and the surface of each zone which in turn is indicated with a number corresponding to a specific wool color which the weaver then uses to fill that numbered area.
The cartoonist assigns a number to each color of wool yarn. The yarns are then grouped in small skeins and knotted together to form a rosary (chapelet). The cartoon is then slid under the yarns of the loom and guides the craftsman in the weaving process.
Handcrafted tailor-made dyeing
Unlike industrial dyeing processes, the craftsman dyer creates his own colors by eye, progressively adding powdered pigments of the three primary colors in small doses. From these three pigments, the potential range of colors and shades available is almost infinite.
Manufacture Robert Four is the only one in Aubusson which has its own dyeing plant.
The weaver’s job is to bring the artist’s work to life. Jean Cocteau referred to the weaver as a harpist, juggling with two art forms in an attempt to produce a work of art where matter, warmth, contrast, texture and variation play on the spectator’s imagination and emotions.
Manufacture Robert Four pieces are woven entirely by hand using the traditional low-warp or high-warp looms. The variety of techniques and the personal touch that each weaver brings to each piece of work make it a unique creation.
Hand-woven tapestries and carpets
According to a six century old tradition, Aubusson tapestries and carpets are hand-woven on a horizontal low-warp loom.
Hookedcarpets (Savonnerie carpets)
Savonnerie carpets are made using a vertical high-warp loom. Thanks to this technique, the carpet has an extremely tight pile.
Hand-tufting is a more recent technique and these carpets are made using hand-stitching on canvas.
This mechanical weaving technique is used by Néolice. The cartoon is set up using a digital design and the end result is similar to the Aubusson’s stitch.
Manufacture Robert Four, managed by Pierre-Olivier Four, oversees all the Aubusson tapestry and carpet-making on its premises and in its workshops. Its team is made up of designers ; cartoonists ; dyers skilled in dyeing wool, silk, linen and other fibers ; weavers ; seamstresses dedicated to adding the finishing touches to tapestries and restoring antique pieces ; and craftsmen skilled in hand-tufted techniques.
For the past ten years, the artistic director, Patricia Racine, has been promoting the excellence of Manufacture Robert Four’s style, the way in which its weavers interpret works of art, and the weaving techniques used with well-known artists in the decorative arts and contemporary art. She has developed a design studio which prides itself on the caring relationship it has nurtured with customers, artists, gallery owners, interior decorators and architects. In the first stages, the studio introduces them to the wide range of weaving possibilities, and the materials and colors available. Then, as the project progresses, discussions become more focussed and ideas more precise about the range of colors and designs which best meet the client’s creative brief and which ultimately will make the finished tapestry a unique and exceptional work of art.