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.
The success of Henri IV of France in importing low-warp weavers from Flanders, and establishing the industry at Paris in 1607, stirred England to imitation. A copy of the agreement made by Henri IV with Marc de Comans and François de la Planche, was secured and a royal commission was appointed to consider the proposals of Sir Francis Crane, last lay chancellor of the Order of the Garter, and a prominent figure at the Courts of both James I and Charles I. In August, , 1619, Sir Francis was granted the fees for the making of three baronets.
At this point it is interesting to note that the baronetcy is a title created in 1611 by James I, "a new Dignitie between Barons and Knights," for the purpose of raising money. The fees that each new baronet must pay, at first amounted to £1,095, but were probably less by 1619.
In return for this grant of money in the form of fees, and for the exclusive privilege for twenty-one years of making tapestries (tapissiers already established being excepted on presenting proper evidence to the commissioners), and for freedom from taxation, Sir Francis was to equip the plant and accept a certain number of seven-year apprentices from the Hospitals of the City of London.
The King's agents abroad at once began to arrange secretly for the importation of Flemish weavers. In 1620 the secretary of the Flemish embassy at London reported to his sovereigns, Albert and Isabel the Archdukes of the Netherlands, that fifty had already arrived. Among them were Josse Inghele, Jacques Hendrix, Pierre Foquentin, Simon Heyns, of Oudenarde; and Josse Ampe of Bruges. Among those who came soon after, were Peter de Craight, Louis Vermoulen, and Philip de Maecht who became manager of the works at Mortlake, and who had previously been manager of an atelier for Comans and Planche in Paris. His monogram appears in the selvage of Paris as well as of Mortlake tapestries.
The Prince of Wales who became King on March 27, 1623, as Charles I, and his bosom friend and mentor "Steenie," Marquis of Buckingham (Duke of Buckingham after May 18, 1623), were enthusiastic patrons of Sir Francis. The first important set woven at Mortlake a suburb of London, was Vulcan and Venus, in nine pieces bearing the monogram of Charles in cartouches in the side borders, the three feathers of the Prince of Wales in the cartouche in the top border, and in the bottom border four sceptres crossed with a ribbon bearing the Latin inscription Sceptra fovent artes, which in the one of this set owned by Mrs. Von Zedlitz and exhibited on loan at the Metropolitan Museum (See plate no. 107), reads favent by error for fovent. The phrase means Sceptres (that is to say, Kings) foster the arts. The one of this set in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by Thomson opposite page 304, also has favent. Both of these tapestries are signed with the Mortlake shield and the monogram of Philip de Maecht in the bottom selvage, but the bottom selvage of Mrs. Von Zedlitz's tapestry is now attached vertically on the right, the original selvage there evidently having worn away.
Plate no. 107. Vulcan's Complaint to Jupiter, lent to the Metropolitan Museum by Mrs. A. von Zedlitz. See chapter V (Mortlake, Merton, And Other English Looms) under Mortlake. A tapestry enriched with gold woven at Mortlake before 1625 for Charles I, whose monogram appears in both side borders the three feathers of the Prince of Wales in the cartouche in the top border, in the bottom border four sceptres crossed with a ribbon bearing a Latin inscription. Note the heavy shadowing of the woven frame.
Charles and Buckingham were not as prompt with payments as with orders. During their absence in Spain in 1623, Sir Francis wrote to King James a letter that is reprinted by Thomson from page 285 of the European Magazine for October, 1786. He beseeches the King to excuse his boldness in thus addressing him, and explains that he is "already above £16,000 in the busynes and never made returns of more than £2,500, so that my estate is wholly exhausted and my credit is spent." . . . "and I know not how to give continuance to the busyness one month longer." He also says:
"The Prince and My Lord Marquis both (to whom a little before their journey I presented my necessities . . . ) gave me commandment to keep the busyness afoote, and promised me for the present to keep the fire goinge (which was the Prince's own phrase), that I should instantly receive the money layed out for my Lord Marquis, which was £3,200, and that I should have besides the benefit of two Serjeants [meaning the fees paid by them on assuming office].
"The Prince gave me order to go into hande with a rich suite of the Months and to send to Genna [Genoa] for certayne drawings of Raphaell of that Urbin, which were desseignes for tapestries made for Pope Leo the X, and for which there is £300 to be payed, besides their charge of bringing home".
The Prince wrote from Madrid, directing his council to pay £700 for the tapestry drawings ordered from Italy, and £500 on the set of the Twelve Months being woven for him at Mortlake. He was anxious to have the set finished before his return to England.
Early in the history of the Mortlake industry, Francis Cleyn, a student in Italy, in the service of Charles' uncle, Christian IV of Denmark, was brought to the notice of Prince Charles, and permission was secured for him to enter the English service. His work was so much liked that on June 4, 1625, Charles, shortly after his accession to the throne, granted him a life salary of £100 a year. As shown on page 112 of volume XVIII of Rymer's Fcedera:
"Know ye that we do give and graunt unto Francis Cleyn a certain annuitie of one hundred pounds a year during his natural life".
Francis Cleyn acted as art director of the Mortlake Tapestry Works until his death in 1658. Cleyn's prosperity, however, was merely an overflow from that of Sir Francis. Nearly a month earlier - on May 10, 1625, to be exact - by a document printed on page 60 of volume XVIII of Rymer's Fœdera under the heading De Concessione Speciali Francesco Crane Militi, King Charles acknowledges an indebtedness of £6,000 to Sir Francis, balance due on three suits of gold tapestry, and granted him a pension of £1,000 a year for ten years "for the better Maintenance of the said Workes of Tapestries," and of a second £1,000 a year for the same period to settle the debt, but with the proviso that if at any time Charles paid the debt in full with interest at 8 per cent., the payment of the second £1,000 a year should cease. The document also provides that the £2,000 a year shall be paid out of the revenues accruing "in respect of the Pre-emption of Tynne within the counties of Cornwall and Devon".