|Anonymous depiction of a silk weaver' s atelier, 1820s.|
Musée Gadagne, Lyon
|Pre-Revolutionary pirn |
winder similar to the
one in the picture
Lyon was the only major urban centre in 18th-century France where the textile industry remained confined within the city limits, and regulation by the guild, La Grande Fabrique, ensured a strong corporate identity among weavers. Of a population of 140,000 plus, up to a third were directly or indirectly dependent on silk manufacture, which at this period had yet to spread out onto the plateau of the Croix-Rousse, the celebrated quartier of the canuts. Instead the industry was concentrated on the right bank of the Saône (Saint-Georges, Port-Saint-Paul, Pierre-Scize) and the slopes of the Grande-Côte to the north, where workshops clung to the hillside to benefit from the light. A small impoverished enclave also existed in the old city itself near the Hôtel-Dieu. Between 1667 and 1752 the number of looms more than quadrupled - from 2000 to 9400. In 1786 almost 15,000 were in operation.
|The second "canut interior" - in this later 19th century |
depiction the atelier is sparse and impoverished.
The five to seven thousand master weavers (maîtres-fabricants or maîtres-ouvriers) of Lyon were not of course true proletarians but small artisans whose economic horizons were bounded by the traditional economy of fair price and regulation. Each owned a workshop with up to four looms and themselves employed journeymen (compagnons), apprentices and servants. But production was on a strictly domestic scale with the number of looms per weaver restricted by the merchant members of the Grande Fabrique to four (or two for weavers working on their own account.)
|Real life: traditional workshop photographed in |
Spitalfields in 1895.
Many London silk weavers were of Huguenot ancestry.
Hamlets Local History Collection
Canut interiors : Histoire par images
Philippe Demoule, L'atelier du canut Lyonnais au XIXe siècle