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Philippe de Lasalle


philippe de Lasalle, portrait

Philippe de Lasalle is one of the most famous designer and entrepreneur of the silk industry in the 18th century. He was born in 1723 in the little town of Seyssel, lying at the foothills of Juras mountains in the east of France. Orphan at one year old he went to live with one of his uncle in Lyon, France where he was taught the art of drawing and painting by Pierre Sarabat, a prominent Lyonnais painter.

Philippe de Lasalle 1788
The Cleveland Museum of Art

After a few years spent in Paris where he probably studied with Bachelier in the school of design founded by Francois Boucher, both masters of the new flamboyant Rococco style that was to replace the baroque style of the seventeenth century.

He came back to Lyon in 1744 to work in the textile industry. He learned how works a loom and how to tranfer the drawings to the cards used by the loom. In 1748 he married the daughter of the manufacturer he worked for.


He invented a removable version of a device called a semple. The semple was a key part of the mechanism that controlled the pattern woven on an individual loom. Lasalle's device could be transferred from one loom to another, without having to program the pattern a second time. The removable semple also facilitated the weaving of the larger designs intended as wall coverings.Philippe de la Salle impressed Lyon's officials with the ingenuity of his machine.

The rare talent of Philippe de Lasalle was to be at the same time an excellent technician and an artist. He was able to execute his production from the first stroke of the pencil to the last play of the shuttle.

The height of his career was reached at a time when a blase clientele was becoming weary of the rococo, and the art of Lasalle struck a new note, a note that suggests a slight reversion to the balance and symmetry of the time of Louis XIV; Hi style is simple and perfectly balanced. To him silk was sufficient and he used neither gold nor silver, nor did he make use of velvet, although he sometimes produced the effect of velvet by the introduction of chenille. A few touches of black cleverly distributed are one of his characterictics.


Philipe de Lasalle design Lyon
Peacock and pheasants
executed for Catherine II, Russia
Philipe de Lasaale
Seat cover , brocaded lampas, silk
circa 1760

The gardener
Circa 1770

Louis XV portrait

Further Readings:
Philippe de Lasalle: From Mise-en-carte to Industrial Design, by Daryl M. Hafter © 1977


Philippe de Lasalle: The Raphael of Silk Design. By G. L. Hunter Published by Dean-Hicks Co, 1921

A. M. Wiederkehr, ‘Le dessinateur pour les étoffes d'or, d'argent et de soie’, doctorat 3e cicle, Université de Lyons II

L.E.Miller, ‘Designers in the Lyons Silk Industry 1712-1787’, PhD thesis, Brighton Polytechnic, 1988


MusEe des Tissus et des Arts dEcoratifs de Lyon

The Cleveland Museum of Art