Canuts interiors

Canuts interiors

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  • Interior of a canut workshop at the Montée des Epies.


  • The Lyon crisis. Interior of a silk weaver. (in Le Monde Illustré, March 3, 1877)

    FERAT M.

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Title: Interior of a canut workshop at the Montée des Epies.

Author : ALEXIS (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 44 - Width 34

Technique and other indications: oil on cardboard

Storage place: Gadagne Museum website

Contact copyright: © Gadagne Museum - Lyon

Picture reference: (9)97.3

Interior of a canut workshop at the Montée des Epies.

© Gadagne Museum - Lyon

To close

Title: The Lyon crisis. (in Le Monde Illustré, March 3, 1877)

Author : FERAT M. (-)

Creation date : 1877

Date shown: 1877

Dimensions: Height 36 - Width 27

Storage place: Gadagne Museum website

Contact copyright: © Gadagne Museum - Lyon

The Lyon crisis. (in Le Monde Illustré, March 3, 1877)

© Gadagne Museum - Lyon

Publication date: August 2005


Canuts interiors


Historical context

The Silk Factory was created in 1536 by François Ier. But the successive crises will transform the modes of production.

Image Analysis

Both show a workshop which is also a place of residence. The loom takes up the maximum amount of space on the ground and in height, which allows the "hanger" to be fitted under the ceiling. Cats and mice coexist with the family, as does the usual caged bird (According to local tradition, its vitality allows one to judge the absence of any toxic carbon dioxide emanation). But the situations are very different.
The colors, the objects treated like still lifes catching the light, give the painting an air of prosperity. The children are playing. In addition to the girl at the railing, five people are at work. The weaver seated on the bench of a uni loom pulls the cord to launch the shuttle. The weaver, armed with strength, makes some repairs. Three women prepare the cans using different machines.
Located on the right bank of the Saône, the old weaving district, the workshop is under the roof, probably on the hillside to receive all the light. The furniture, the engravings on the wall, the bust, the plant, reveal a certain ease and taste for beauty, while the holy water font and boxwood indicate pious traditions. The clothes, except the boy's pants and cap, prolong the fashion of the 18th century. Jewelry is a heritage that can be pledged in difficult times (All details agree with post-death inventories or marriage contracts). Moreover, bread, fish and vegetables bear witness to the frugality of the meals.
This painting, of which we do not know the origin or the precise date, shows an old-fashioned canusery with perhaps the desire to celebrate happy times.

On the other hand, the engraving is a work of circumstance to make known the very serious crisis which then rages in Lyon. The absence of color, the dryness of the lines, the rudimentary furniture and lines, the overwhelmingness of the characters, give an impression of sadness and poverty. The children don't play. The trade is stopped. It is surmounted by Jacquard mechanics for weaving the shaped. This is one of these workshops installed on all floors of buildings constructed since the Restoration on the secularized grounds of Croix-Rousse. They are better suited to the dimensions of the new trades, better ventilated, better lit by their large windows than the dilapidated housing on the banks of the Saône and the Presqu’île. But in 1877 there was no work.


The situation for foremen is not uniform, but their profit is narrow, between the costs of setting up the trades (which are their responsibility) and the wages set at the lowest by the traders. For lack of reserves, unemployment hits them hard, as does the large workforce, partly female, employed in ancillary tasks.
During the nineteenth century, production increased despite frequent and temporary crises due to variations in prices, political uncertainties, foreign competition but also between weavers: 18,000 looms in 1810, 27,000 in 1830, 60,000 in 1850, 100,000 to 120,000 in 1877. More and more of them are settling in the countryside, for the United who require little know-how, are little paid and are in fashion. The beautiful shaped, jewels of Croix-Rousse, are luxury products very sensitive to market shocks. In 1877, a sharp rise in raw silk prices, following disastrous cocoon harvests, was accompanied by a drop in orders. Traders are in debt and loaded with stocks to sell. The trades are stopped. This serious crisis is followed by the long depression at the end of the century. La Fabrique will have to evolve, gradually abandoning craftsmanship for industrial production.
Evolution of which these two images are also symbolic: a private commission from a local artist who is inspired by masters of the past; the beginnings of the modern large press with a Parisian weekly which sends an investigator on site and takes care to illustrate the information.

  • canuts
  • Lyon
  • workers
  • industrial Revolution
  • weaving
  • blockade


Justin GODART Lyon workers and trades 1909, reedited Marseille, Lafitte, 1979 Maurice GARDEN Lyon and the Lyonnais in the 18th century Lyon Center for Economic and Social History, 1970.Yves LEQUIN The Workers of the Lyon region 1848-1914 Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1977.Françoise BAYARD and Pierre CAYEZ (eds.) History of Lyon from the 16th century to the present day t.II, Horwath, 1990.

To cite this article

Hélène DELPECH, “Canuts interiors”

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