This section is from the book "Tapestries; Their Origin, History And Renaissance", by George Leland Hunter. Also available from Amazon: Tapestries; Their Origin, History, And Renaissance.
While the Furniture Factory of the Crown at the Gobelins was a State institution organised by Colbert to produce tapestries and other art objects for the King, the business at Beauvais was a private one established by Louis Hinart, a native of Beauvais who was an experienced maker and merchant of tapestries, having a shop in Paris where he disposed of the goods made at his factory in Flanders. Colbert gave him every encouragement to transfer his looms to France, and on August 5, 1664, the King signed an edict subsidising and conferring special privileges on "the royal manufactures of high and low warp tapestries established at Beauvais and other places in Picardy." Of the amount necessary for the acquisition of real estate and buildings, the King agreed to advance two-thirds, up to 30,000 livres. But the money advanced by the King was secured by mortgage on the property. The King also lent Hinart another 30,000 livres for the purchase of wool, silk, dyes, etc., which the latter and his associates undertook to repay within six years. They also bound themselves to employ the first year not less than 100 workmen, and to increase the number annually so that it should be 600 at the end of six years. Upon the accomplishment of which the King waived the repayment of the first 30,000 livres advanced by him. The royal treasury was also to pay 20 livres for every foreign workman attracted to France. Hinart was to have always in training at least 50 apprentices, towards whose maintenance the King allowed 30 livres a year each. For every set of tapestries over 20 aunes long (78 feet) exported to foreign countries Hinart was to receive a bonus of 20 livres.
The King was better than his promise. Hinart received not only the first 30,000 livres in 1664, but 10,000 livres more in 1665 to continue the buildings, and a further 20,000 livres in 1667. He also received in 1664 the 30,000 livres for the purchase of materials, together with 2,077 livres in 1666, 5,400 livres in 1667, 16,200 livres in 1669, 4,957 livres in 1670, 5,285 livres in 1672, 5,066 livres in 1673, in accordance with the agreements about apprentices and foreign workmen. The King also, in 1668, released Hinart from the obligation to repay 12,000 livres of the money advanced, and what was of even greater importance bought tapestries of him regularly and largely.
Plate no. 187. Beauvais XVIII century tapestry Screen Panel bearing the imperial double-headed eagle that clasps in its talons the imperial sceptre and globe with cross. Size 3 feet 2 by 2 feet 6 and subject Vulcan at the Forge, after Boucher.
From 1667 to 1671 Hinart received 16,519 livres 18 sous 4 deniers, for 6 sets of tapestry in 39 pieces - four verdures, one set of animal verdures, one of small personages and animals. In 1669 he received 41,789 livres for thirteen sets in 78 pieces described in the Louis XIV Inventory. Among them Children Playing, a set of 8 pieces 25 2/3 aunes long enriched with gold, and numerous verdures, some of which are described as after Fouquières the well-known landscape painter. In 1670, 2,700 livres for a Village Marriage in six pieces. In 1675, 12,552 livres for 8 sets in 49 pieces, one set of six at 40 livres an aune, the rest at 30 livres an aune. The prevailing prices at the Gobelins were 200, 300 and even 400 livres an aune. This comparison gives an idea of the relative positions of the two institutions, while Hinart continued in management. The royal subventions amounting in all to 250,000 livres and the royal purchases of 254 tapestries for 94,666 livres, were not enough to make the enterprise prosper at Beauvais. In 1684 Hinart was at the end of his resources and obliged to retire.
Cronstrom, the Paris agent of the Swedish Crown, in his letters home (page 83 of volume IV of Boettiger Swedish), gives as the reason for Hinart's creditors throwing him into bankruptcy: that Madame de Montespan had entrusted Philip Bèhagle's Paris factory with the execution of the beautiful tapestries she was having made after the designs of Bérain for her son the Count of Toulouse, and that Hinart's best workmen had left him to go with Béhagle.
When Hinart retired Béhagle, who was a native of Tournai, was chosen to succeed him. He did not content himself with weaving verdures, but boldly launched forth into the production of large figure tapestries. That he was encouraged by the King is clear from the inscription engraved on the garden wall of Beauvais that says: "King Louis XIV rested under this shade in 1686. Sieur Béhagle was then director of the Factory." But the encouragement did not extend to such constant subventions and large purchases of tapestries, as under Hinart. The only advance Béhagle received was one of 12,000 livres when he took charge in 1684, and from 1684 to 1700 he sold to the Crown only 12 sets of tapestries in 70 pieces besides a high warp set for 5,000 livres. Among important sets produced for individuals was that of the Conquests of Louis the Great. Of the set that was enriched with gold only two pieces are known to survive, now in the possession of Signor Candido Cassini of Florence.
Another splendid set woven by Béhagle was Raphael's Acts of the Apostles in eight pieces, copied from the set formerly exhibited at the Cathedral of Meaux. This set signed by Béhagle (See plate no. 91) is now in the Beauvais Cathedral, and there is a duplicate of it in the French National Collection. Other sets were the Adventures of Tele-machus in six pieces (after cartoons by Arnault, acquired in Brussels), of which there is an example in excellent condition in the Royal Spanish Collection and several in Paris private collections: the Story of Achilles, the Marine Divinities in four pieces bearing the arms of the Count of Toulouse High Admiral of France; the Chinese Grotesques after Bérain, of which many copies were woven, and of which the Musée des Arts Decoratifs has a remarkable example with a delightful border (illustrated on page 12 of Badin Beauvais).