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Restoration retrospective: Louis XV velvet wallcovering

Posted on 04/21/2015 by Judy Ross Comments(7)

One of the grandest guest rooms in Biltmore House—the Louis XV Room—had only a few reminders of its former beauty until its three-year restoration was completed in April 2009. Today, let’s take a closer look at the fabric that is the focal point of this room.

The Louis XV Room was used for storage and was on Biltmore’s behind-the-scenes tour for a number of years.

Its beautiful red and gold velvet wallcovering had become brittle over the past 100 years, leading to splitting and tearing, and exposure to light had faded the gold to more of a cream color. In 2007, Biltmore’s conservation staff began removal of the original fabric panels, carefully documenting and archiving the panels for storage.

Our curators turned to Tassinari & Chatel located in Lyon, France, to reproduce this important figured velvet. In business since 1680, Tassinari & Chatel is internationally renowned for its  brocades, damasks, cut velvets, and other silk fabrics. According to archival correspondence, George Vanderbilt purchased many fabrics from the company in the late 1800s for his new home.

The red and gold velvet was hand woven on century-old Jacquard looms, in the same manner as the cut velvets Vanderbilt purchased a century earlier.

Skilled artisans were able to weave two yards per week because of the intense time-consuming process. It took a total of 200 yards to complete the entire room.

Craftsmen repaired the intricate plaster moldings and trim in the room before the new wallcovering was installed.

Specialists were brought in to handle installation of the sumptous cut velvet panels.

The results are breathtaking—even six years later—with the richly adorned walls and draperies complimenting the delicate curves and rounded forms of the Louis XV style furnishings.

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Posted on 08/04/2015 By sbell

Janet & Cecil, Biltmore House rotates some rooms on and off the tour each season due to weather.

Posted on 08/04/2015 By Janet W

I have been to visit Biltmore both in April and May this Spring (2015) and different rooms were open each time and others were closed. Why does this happen? Additionally, rooms that I have always seen on the regular tour and loved (the two end bedrooms on Third floor) were closed. Why does this happen? Can you only see these rooms on the special tours?

Posted on 08/03/2015 By Cecil M

Was there in June before it was closed. Do you know long it will be closed for restoration? Look forward to winter tour rooms !

Posted on 05/14/2015 By sbell

Hi Regina, There is UV film on the windows. We also close these rooms in the summer to guest traffic, allowing us to pull the shades to block the more intense summer sun. (Which explains why there is a “summer” house route and a “winter” route).

Posted on 05/13/2015 By Regina K

what is being done to prevent the fabrics from fading again? I see the sun streaming through the windows..do they have a way of blocking the sun out? would be a shame after all the hard work just to have it fade again..

Posted on 04/23/2015 By Ashley S

Will you please post a photo of the sitting area down the staircases beside the big window? That area has always intrigued me and I would love to see what's down there! Thank you.

Posted on 04/22/2015 By Jan R

Darren , it is such a pleasure to work with you. You are always so pleasant and we are honored to call you our friend.

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