Camille Hilaire (1916–2004) was a Cubist painter and weaver from Metz, France. He produced a vast body of work: lithographs, paintings, architectural murals, and large wool tapestries.
This immense wool tapestry was hand-woven by the skilled artisans at Manufactura de Tapeçarias de Portalegre in Portugal, from a maquette by the artist. It is signed by the artist in the weave, signed by the fabricator “MTP fino” and initialed by the lead weaver “J.C.” on the verso. These large tapestries were made in editions of 1 to 8. We’ve never seen another “Bathers.”
In the 1950s Portalegre replaced Aubusson as the “go-to” weaver of fine art tapestries serving Western Europe.
This artwork is 5 × 8 feet. It is made from 100% wool. This flat weave technique (akin to Aubusson) maximizes detail and number of colors. Portalegre has 7,000 colors of wool yet the artisans had to mix strands of wool to simulate the artist’s Cubist brushwork. The condition is excellent. Wool tapestries don’t lose their color, are durable, absorb sound, and are easy to transport compared to paintings of similar size.
There’s another 1957 Hilaire tapestry for sale in NYC at Maison Guerard. It’s 50% bigger. It’s priced at $150,000.