Modern-day gobelins emerged along with a textile factory in Paris, named after a family of French dyers.
The enterprise began in the mid-15th century, when Jean Gobelin and Philibert Gobelin set up a dye works on the outskirts of Paris.
The family business flourished, and in the early 17th century King Henry IV of France turned the works into a tapestry factory under Flemish weavers.
The luxurious products of the Gobelins factory became so famous that the establishment was taken over in 1662 by King Louis XIV's finance minister Jean Baptiste Colbert to form part of the Royal Manufactory of Furniture.
Colbert placed the French painter Charles Lebrun in charge, and he commissioned designs by the best artists of the day, setting high standards of execution and encouraging the training of new artisans. The result was an outpouring of magnificent hangings, upholstery, and furniture in a richly ornate, baroque style.
The Gobelins factory closed from 1694 to 1699, owing to the Crown's financial difficulties. It reopened solely to make tapestries and has continued, with a brief interruption during the French Revolution, ever since.
With the years, styles changed to rococo, neoclassical, and modern. In 1825 the factory absorbed the Savonnerie rug works, founded in 1627. It is now officially called the Manufacture Nationale de Gobelins.