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A HIGHLY IMPORTANT IMPERIAL EMBROIDERED SILK THANGKA

A HIGHLY IMPORTANT IMPERIAL EMBROIDERED SILK THANGKA YONGLE SIX-CHARACTER PRESENTATION MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1402-1424) This massive panel is exquisitely embroidered in gold thread and brilliant coloured silk threads on leaf-green jiang chou silk enriched with a regular pattern of dark blue medallions of curled leafy scrolls outlined with gold thread. The central image is of the wrathful Raktayamari, depicted in tones of red, standing in yab-yum embracing his consort Vajravetali. Her left leg encircling his waist, his right hand wielding above his head a khatvanga embellished with human heads in varying states and the vajra thunderbolt, his left arm supporting his facing consort and holding a kapala or skull cap in his left hand. The locked couple is trampling on the blue corpse of Yama, the Lord of death, wearing a tiger skin and crown, lying on the back of their mount, a brown buffalo recumbent on a multi-coloured lotus base. All below two rows of buddhas and bodhisattvas seated on lotus bases, the upper including Heruka Vajrabhairava on the far left and Manjusri on the far right, flanking the five Dhyani Buddhas, Ratnasambhava, Akshobhya, Vairocana, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi. The lower row with Green Tara and White Tara. On the lower panel is a row of seven offering goddesses dancing on lotus bases and holding aloft dishes as offerings below the couple. The thangka is bordered by an embroidered yellow-ground band of vajra. On the upper right side is the vertical presentation mark in gold thread on a red embroidered ground below the White Tara. Accompanied with a Qing dynasty silk surround now detached. 132 x 84 in. (335.3 x 213.4 cm.)

  • HKGHong Kong
  • 2014-11-26
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A sickle-leaf, vine scroll and palmette 'vase'-technique carpet, probably

The visual impact of the Clark sickle-leaf carpet is so potent that it has impressed carpet scholars for decades, beginning with its first publication, where the author writes, “ The Clark-Corcoran carpet is definitely the finest of the group, and is surely one of the outstanding examples of Persian carpet weaving,” Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, vol. VI, 1939, pp. 2385-2386.The tremendous vitality of this carpet’s design is achieved through its highly complex network of swirling vines, which intertwine and overlap each other and flowering or fruit-laden branches.  All of these are in planes overlaid by the curling, split and serrated lancet or ‘sickle’-leaves which encircle the horizontal and angled palmettes.  Also on the highest plane are the bold palmettes along the central vertical axis and the half-motifs along edges of the field.  The two elegant cypress trees, while overlaid by leaves and branches, pierce the pattern vertically.  All of these elements are depicted in a rich array of vivid color and executed with a crispness of drawing that demonstrate the superiority of the carpet’s weavers and designers. While the horizontal palmettes are in symmetrical pairs, the overall pattern is asymmetric with one end of the field having three split medallions and the other end featuring two large half-palmettes and quarter rosette medallions at the corners.  It is very likely that this is one half of a design that would have been mirrored, creating a carpet of more typical long and narrow Safavid proportions, see Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, p. 2385.  Pope further proposes that the format of this carpet shows that it was woven for a throne dais or takht and that the throne, and carpet, would have been placed against a wall at one end such it would appear that the Shah were sitting in the middle of a great carpet, Pope, ibid.  This proposed function for the carpet stuck over the years, and in the 1976 exhibition Carpets of Central Persia, this carpet was labeled “The Corcoran Throne Rug,” see May H. Beattie, Carpets of Central Persia, Sheffield, 1976, pl. 6, cat. no. 15. Beattie also notes how the carpet can be viewed from either end, as the vines and leaves are directed “alternately medially and laterally,” although she prefers viewing with the cypress trees upright rather than “balancing on their tips,” and illustrates the carpet with this orientation, see Beattie, ibid, p. 50.  Whether or not this carpet was woven for a dais, its scale adds to its dramatic impact as the design elements are barely contained within its boundries. The sickle-leaf design is the most rare of ‘vase’ technique carpet patterns and of the extant pieces known, the Clark carpet appears to be the only one having a red ground.  The sickle-leaf motif itself is undoubtedly a Safavid rendition of the Ottoman saz, or curling, feathered leaf motif, such as those seen on the Cairene carpets in this catalogue, lots 1 and 2.   The saz appears around 1550 in an album of design elements that would be appropriate in many media including ceramics, textiles, metalwork, book bindings, and carpets, that was produced by the imperial studio of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, see Michael Franses, "The Influences of Safavid Persian Art Upon An Ancient Tribal Culture," in Heinrich Kirchheim, et al., Orient Stars, Stuttgart and London, 1993, p.108.   Curling, serrated lancet or sickle leaves became a popular motif in carpets, appearing not only in Safavid and Ottoman court carpets but also in works from the Caucasus, (see C. G. Ellis, Early Caucasian Rugs, Washington, D.C., 1975, pl. 22, the Caucasian 'vase' carpet from the collection of Harold Keshishian), and Mughal India, see Dimand and Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, pp. 148-9, fig. 129, cat. no. 55.  Not only found in Safavid 'vase'-technique weaving, the curling leaf also appears in carpets from other Persian workshops such as those attributed to Isphahan, with one example being lot 19 in this catalogue, the Lafões carpet. Most closely related to the Clark carpet design-wise is the sickle-leaf 'vase'-technique carpet in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, see Richard Ettinghausen, Persian Art: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, 1985, pl. 30.  The Gulbenkian carpet shares a similar design scheme although on a deep blue ground and the design is mirrored from the central horizontal axis such that its dimensions are those more typical for Safavid weavings, more than twice as long as it is wide.  The Clark and Gulbenkian carpets also share a similar narrow border with simple band guard stripes.  These narrow borders have led some to speculate that they are the inner guard borders to a wide major border that would more comfortably complement the large design elements of the field, see Steven Cohen, “Safavid and Mughal Carpets in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon,” Hali, issue 114, p. 85. Yet, a narrow border is a feature of so many ‘vase’ technique carpets that Spuhler stated, “The borders of all Vase carpets are exceptionally narrow, and, as in this fragment, they often lack guard stripes,” when writing about the Sarre fragment in Berlin, see Friedrich Spuhler, Oriental Carpets in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, Berlin, 1987, pl. 86, p. 227. Other related ‘vase-technique carpets with narrow borders include the Béhague ‘vase’ carpet, see Christie’s London, 15 April 2010, lot 100 and Pope, op.cit., pl. 1232; the Wagner Garden carpet in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, see Beattie, op.cit., pl. I; and sickle-leaf design ‘vase’ carpet fragments in the Textile Museum, see Charles Grant Ellis, “Kirman’s Heritage in Washington, Vase Rugs in the Textile Museum,” Textile Museum Journal, vol. II, no. 3, December 1968, figs. 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10a, 16. The border design of palmettes, rosettes and scrolling, flowering vines on the present carpet is most similar to that on the ‘vase’-technique carpet with fragments in the Textile Museum, Berlin and Cairo, see respectively Ellis, ibid, fig. 1 and Spuhler, op.cit., pl. 86, and Gaston Wiet, Exposition d’Art Persan, Cairo, 1935.  While the basic elements of this border pattern are found in many ‘vase’ carpets including fragments in the Textile Museum, Ellis, op.cit, figs. 3, 4, 58, 10a, the motifs are usually more stylized and regular, as most distinctly seen on the Béhague carpet.  Ellis sees these changes as an evolution over time and one aspect in setting a chronology of ‘vase’ carpets with the earliest examples being the Berlin, Textile Museum and Cairo carpet and the Clark carpet offered here, see Ellis, ibid., p. 19. In comparing the Clark carpet with the other sickle-leaf design ‘vase’ technique carpets there are differences in the designs that suggest a rough chronology.  The Gulbenkian carpet features a layer of red vines that are thicker than the underlying floral vinery, while the branches and vines on the Clark carpet are all quite fine.  On the Clark carpet the sickle-leaves are also more attenuated than the robust, highly serrated foliage on the Gulbenkian carpet.  Sickle leaves on the Jekyll carpet fragments appear to have characteristics similar to both carpets with some leaves being elongated like the Clark and others being more thick and feathered as in the Gulbenkian carpet, see Kirchheim, op.cit., pl. 72, pp. 138-9 and Roland Gilles, et al, Tapis present de l’Orient a l’Occident, Paris, 1989, pp. 148-9.   In the Béhague carpet and the sickle-leaf carpet once with Miss E. T. Brown, see Pope, op.cit., pl. 1236, the leaves have become more uniform in their drawing and placement across the field, suggesting that these are the latest pieces in the chronology.  Ellis, op.cit., p. 19 believes the Clark carpet to be the oldest of the sickle-leaf 'vase'- technique group, dating it to the late 16th century.  Scholars since have come to consider the Gulbenkian as the earliest with the Clark and Jekyll examples following closely thereafter in the early 17th century, see Dimand and Mailey, op.cit., p. 77 and Beattie, op.cit. p. 50. All of the sickle leaves in these carpets are internally decorated with a variety of flowering vines and in many cases they are split in two colors along the vein of the leaf.  In the Clark carpet the sickle leaves are split, with a smaller leaf of a different color sprouting from the long leaf and curling in the opposite direction. The Brown and Gulbenkian carpet have some of these extra leaves, however not to the extent of the Clark carpet.  Other distinctive features of the Clark carpet are the pair of cypress trees and the pair of shield-like light blue palmettes at right angles to the trees, the fan-like blossoms at the base of the trees and the pair of coiled, stylized blue and white cloudbands which also demark a slight shift in the design to the central vertical axis of the carpet.  These bold, rotund cloudbands are found in other ‘vase’-technique carpets, for examples the Sarre/Berlin fragment and two fragments in the Musée des Tissus, Lyon, see Roland Gilles, et al., Le Ciel dans un Tapis, Paris, 2004, pls. 50 and 51, pp. 184-187. The pair of tall, elegant cypress trees in the Clark carpet are more uncommon on sickle design ‘vase’ technique carpets, appearing on two fragments from the same carpet now split between The Burrell collection, Glasgow Art Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, see Beattie, op.cit., nos. 18 and 19, pp. 52-53.  Similar pairs of cypress trees appear in other important Safavid carpets such as the Schwarzenberg ‘Paradise Park’ carpet, now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar as well as the 'Coronation' carpet, in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, see respectively Michael Franses, “Persian Classical Carpets,” Hali, no. 155, p. 10 and Linda Kamaroff, "The Coronation Carpet," Hali, no. 162, fig. 2, p. 47.  Cypress trees have long been revered by the Persians.  They are indigenous to the area and have longevity, leading to them becoming a symbol of immortality, and to their choice as a symbol for the Zoroastrian god Mithra, see Susan Day, “The Tree of Life: A Universal Symbol,” Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies VI, Milan, 1999, p. 11. Trees have been used by man as symbols of life, paradise and the cosmic universe from earliest times to the present, see Day, ibid, pp. 1-13.   Since Cyrus the Great built the large garden he called his ‘Paradise Park’ around 540 B.C., Persian artists and authors have been depicting and writing about gardens as a paradise ever since, see Franses, op.cit., p. 7.  A favored composition for carpets therefore became the paradise garden with its depiction taking various forms from the ‘Paradise Park’ carpets, to the bird’s eye view ‘Garden’ carpets, to the ‘vase’-technique carpets filled with stylized floral motifs and flowering shrubs.  The Clark carpet with its abundance of trees and branches issuing ripe fruits and a myriad of flowering blossoms is the essence of a garden paradise. A distinct characteristic of the ‘vase’ technique group of carpets is their vivid color range and the highly sophisticated juxtaposition of these colors.  In the earliest ‘vase’ carpets, including the Clark carpet, the design is also resplendent in its variety of floral elements and in their differing sizes. Here, the dynamic combination of design and color keep the eye moving over the surface of the carpet .  The Clark sickle-leaf carpet also engages our imagination and we are invited into a world of great splendor and abundance by a tour de force of Safavid weaving. Please note that a license may be required to export textiles, rugs and carpets of Iranian origin from the United States. Clients should enquire with the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regarding export requirements. Please check with the Carpet department if you are uncertain as to whether a lot is subject to this restriction or if you need assistance.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-06-05
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The pearl carpet of baroda, gujarat, india

The foundation of silk and fine deer hide is densely embroidered overall with a design worked in strings of natural 'Basra' pearls, measuring approximately 1-3mm, and English coloured glass beads.  There are on average 78 pearls and beads per vertical dm. (10cm.), and 68 per horizontal dm., equalling a density of c.4,990 pearls and beads per dm2, The total area of the carpet is c.45,670cm.2  Making allowance for the three large diamond filled rosettes (c.440cm2), the 32 smaller rosettes (c.400cm2), and the smaller gems the total area embroidered with pearls and beads is about 44,500cm2  Therefore, over 2.2 million pearls and beads have been used to decorate the field.  In our estimation, the number of pearls employed in the design is therefore at least 1.2-1.5 million.  The rosettes are circled by small natural 'Basra' pearls of slightly larger size, measuring approximately 3-4 mm; the total estimated weight of the pearls is 30,000 carats. The designs worked in the rosettes are set with approximately 2,500  table cut and occasional rose cut diamonds, approximately 350-400 carats in total, all set in silver topped gold or possibly blackened gold; the motifs are further enhanced with foil backed rubies, emeralds and sapphires set in gold The Pearl Carpet of Baroda A Royal Commission:  The Making of a Legend The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an extraordinary work of art that is a true testament to the wealth, sophistication, and grandeur of the legendary courts of the maharajas as well as an extant example of the fabled riches of India.  Embroidered with as many as one and a half million of the fabled 'Basra' pearls, which were harvested in the southern Gulf region and along the coasts of Qatar and  Bahrain, and embellished with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies, this piece has been known throughout the past 150 years as the Pearl Carpet of Baroda.  Named after its patron, the lot offered here was commissioned circa 1865 by Gaekwar Khande Rao, the Maharaja of Baroda (r.1856 – 1870); reputedly originally intended as a gift for the tomb of Mohammed at Medina, it is one of the most iconic masterpieces of Indian craftsmanship known today.  Instantly legendary, this work of art is mentioned by foreign travellers as early as 1880.  The exquisite execution, the remarkable state of preservation, the unquestionable rarity, and the highly unusual combination of form and material make this piece undeniably one of the most remarkable objects ever created. Baroda: A Land of Dynasties The family ruling over Baroda, a state of approximately 8300 square miles about 250 miles north of Mumbai, has a long a history going back some 2000 years in time.  The city of Baroda itself was first mentioned in historical accounts in the early ninth century.  Over the centuries the region was controlled by different powers, including the Gupta Empire, the Chalukya Dynasty, and the Solanki Rajputs.  Hindu kings ruled here until the thirteenth century, when the Solanki lords were defeated by the Delhi sultans who were themselves later overthrown by forces of the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century.  During the Mughal era (1526-1857), ongoing warfare characterized the region as local Marathas, an Indo-Aryan caste of Hindu warriors, resisted the new power and fought for their territories.  By the eighteenth century the Marathas had secured control over the region, even resisting British forces from the west.  Eventually, the ever-growing British presence in India became overwhelming, and after the First, Second, and Third Anglo-Maratha Wars the Maratha Empire was turned into a principality of the British Raj in 1818.  From their defeat until 1948 the Gaekwars remained rulers of Baroda, although the de facto power was in British hands.  After the formation of present-day India, Baroda became part of Gujarat.1 During the British era, industries flourished in Baroda and the state maintained its role as a cultural centre. It was during this period that Khande Rao ascended to the throne as the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda in 1865 and established a court that was renowned throughout the subcontinent for its sophistication and richness.  The new maharaja was known for his love of display and magnificence, and generous patronage of the arts and architecture.  He had a special fondness for jewels and acquired some of the most magnificent gemstones known to the world, such as 128-carat "Star of the South" diamond.2 Opulence and Tradition: Art at the Maratha Court During the second half of the nineteenth century, art-loving Indian lords such as Khande Rao had access to some of the most talented artists who had previously worked for the Mughal court.  Due to the strong political and cultural ties between the subcontinent's Muslim empire and Persia, the oeuvre of Mughal artists had been influenced by Safavid art.  As a result, a distinct Mughal style emerged that was an amalgamation of Persian and indigenous Indian traditions.  After the decline of the Mughal Empire, these royal craftsmen were left without a dependable income as there was no central power with well-established courts able to employ such a highly-trained and expensive workforce.  Jewellers and gem cutters were among those displaced court-artists forced to seek new patrons at the smaller, but still very lavish, households of local rulers.  As these artists came from a distinct artistic tradition, their work retained strong characteristics of the old regime and the art commissioned by their new patrons was strongly influenced by traditional Mughal aesthetics.  This was true for the products of both jewellers and weavers who created works that exhibited characteristics of Persian art.  Textile art, particularly embroidery and brocade weaving, had a long- standing tradition in Baroda and many former imperial craftsmen engaged in that trade found a new home at the Maratha court.  Gem-cutters and jewellers were particularly welcome at court not only because Baroda was one of the richest of all states in the subcontinent, but also because of the old Indian court tradition of giving expensive gifts.3   Western travellers throughout the centuries noted that many Indian rulers presented lavish gifts to their visitors, courtiers, religious institutions, and even the poor.  The tradition of gift-giving and the love for precious gems, coupled with a solid financial background, enabled maharajas and local lords to offer the most lavish gifts, often trying to outshine each other.  During his journey to India, the British traveller John Hawkins noted that during a court visit pearls, coral, and amber were given to courtiers and holy men.4  He also witnessed the ritual of ceremonial giving when observing the emperor handing out gold and silver to the poor, while the Frenchman François Bernier recalled the precious royal gifts amassed at the mosques of the empire.5   In such a generous culture the most unusual and lavish objects were executed by court craftsmen in order to express the sophistication of the patron and to impress and dazzle not only the receiver of the gift but also those witnessing the presentation.  With its overwhelming beauty and astonishing value, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda was a perfect object for such purpose. Bejewelled Textiles: An Ancient Tradition Bejewelled textiles embellished with metallic thread and precious and semi-precious gems were not unknown in the eastern world.  Weavings decorated in such manner were kept in very high regard not only in India but also in Safavid Persia and Ottoman Turkey.  The prestige of these textiles is illustrated in a portrait of Mehmet II, one of the most powerful rulers of the early modern ages, where Gentile Bellini (1429-1507) depicted the Sultan in an architectural niche partially covered with a bejewelled weaving whose embroidery echoes the Renaissance bas-relief carving of the arch framing the sitter.6   The earliest known bejewelled carpets, adorned with pearls, jewels, and gold, date from the Sassanian period (226-636) in Persia.7   According to Pope, the rugs in Khusraw II's (590-628) throne room in the palace at Ctesiphon were "said to have been made of gold-woven fabrics with pearls embroidered on them." 8  The largest carpet, which represented a garden in full bloom, in Kushraw II's palace was even more elaborately decorated with gemstones and was called the Spring of Khusraw or Winter Carpet.9   Later, fables from The Thousand and One Nights also mention carpets decorated with pearls, rubies, and turquoise, not unlike the weaving in the portrait by Bellini, from the times of the Abassid Caliphate (750-1258).10   The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an exceptional 19th century revival of this ancient form.  Existing examples of nineteenth-century Indian textile art show the continuity of the tradition of embellishing fabrics with three-dimensional adornments.  For lengths of dress material from the 1850s decorated with metallic thread and pieces of sparkling beetle wing, an inexpensive alternative to gemstones, see Rosemary Crill, Indian Embroidery, London, 1999, figs. 62 and 64, pp. 70-73. A Legendary Masterpiece: Eyewitness Accounts From the earliest mentions of The Pearl Carpet of Baroda, it has impressed writers as an extraordinary work of art.  Most literature states that this remarkable work was commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda, Khande Rao, in 1865 with the intention that it be given to adorn the tomb of Mohammed at Medina.  In 1880, George M. Birdwood wrote: "But the most wonderful piece of embroidery ever known was the chaddar or veil made by order of Kunde Rao, the late Gaekwar of Baroda, for the tomb of Mahommed [sic] at Medina. It was composed entirely of inwrought pearls and precious stones, disposed in an arabesque pattern, and is said to have cost a crore (10 million) rupees.  Although the richest stones were worked into it, the effect was most harmonious.  When spread out in the sun it seemed suffused with a general iridescent pearly bloom, as grateful to the eyes as were the exquisite forms of its arabesques." 11 This carpet and a round one of similar work were exhibited at the Delhi Exhibition of Indian Art, 1902-3. In his book entitled Indian Art at Delhi, Sir George Watt notes: "Perhaps if any one article could be singled out as more freely discussed at the Exhibition than any other, it would be the Pearl carpet of Baroda. The circular portion shown in the Plate [see page x of this catalogue] was probably originally intended as the veil or canopy, and the rectangular carpet shown on the walls of the Loan Collection Gallery close by is one of the four such pieces that are said to have formed the carpet.  --- The field is in seed pearls, the arabesque design in blue and red being worked out in English glass beads with medallions and rosettes of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, freely dispersed.  To place on the four corners of the carpet were constructed four large weights in solid gold thickly set with diamonds.  One of these weights will be seen hard by the carpet.  Needless to add, this superb gift never went to Mecca."  12 From this we learn that the 'carpet' offered here is one of a suite that originally consisted of four rectangular pieces, a circular piece and four finials.  All of these together may have formed a structure that would be carried in the procession between Mecca and Medina with it then being given to the treasury of the mosque.13   As Bernier wrote, Khande Rao would also be following a Mughal tradition in this generous donation, possibly with the desire to relate his own sophistication and wealth to those of the Mughal emperors. Another visitor to the palace, the Reverend Edward St. Clair Weeden, whose account A Year with the Gaekwar of Baroda, was published in 1909, describes being shown "four great squares, each as large as a fair-sized carpet,...[which] hung on the walls, apparently of tapestry.  Closer inspection showed that they consisted entirely of jewels---pearls, emeralds, rubies, diamonds and so on..." 14  By this time the 'carpet' was not on the floor, but hung in the palace of the Maharaja.  Indeed, this pearl covered, jewel inlaid 'carpet' would not seem to be the most appropriate floor covering.  However, by 1914, when E. L. Tottenham visited the Palace, he noted that only one of the rectangular carpets was still remaining : "Upon the wall hung the oblong [rectangular]-shaped and famous pearl carpet ... It was made in duplicate, the first to be dispatched to Mecca to go over the Tomb of Mohammed.  This one now only remained.  Its value at the time of making was 68,500 rupees, but this day it was worth 2 lakhs.  The piece consisted of three big diamond-set flowers along the middle portion, and thirty-three {sic.} smaller flowers along the border; in the floral design are 1,269 rubies and 596 emeralds.  The remaining portion of the carpet, in size 6 feet by 10 feet, is made of seed pearls, except the blue, green and red lines in the floral design, which are of coloured glass beads." 15 While Kande Rao was himself a Hindu, several writers suggest that he ordered the suite to be given to a mosque in a show of his respect and admiration for Islam.16    Weeden also notes that the Maharajah died before the gift could be sent to Medina and his successors did not feel compelled to carry out his wishes.  Maharaja Gaekwar Khande Rao died in 1870 implying the carpet had been completed by then.   He died of natural causes, having survived an attempt made on his life by his brother Mulhar Rao who had tried to kill him with a concoction of crushed diamonds.17   It has also been suggested that it may have been his brother who was responsible for commissioning the pearl carpet for a local temple and which he then decided to keep.18  This is the only mention of the carpet having been ordered by anyone other than Khande Rao.  Both maharajas were known for their love of luxury but Khande Rao was particularly passionate about jewels, as evidenced by his 1867 purchase of the "Star of the South," one of the largest diamonds in the world.  The diamond, the surviving rectangular carpet and the circular canopy remained in the Gaekwar family collection, and were amongst the pieces in her personal collection which Maharani Sita Devi , wife of the then maharajah, Gaekwar Pratapsingh Rao, brought with her when she moved to Monaco in 1946. The Pearl Carpet of Baroda: A Revival of Mughal Splendour The design of the carpet appears to hearken back to Mughal tradition with the vinery forming three arches, each above a large diamond-filled roundel and topped with an elegant palmette.  An example of an antecedent design can be found in a pair of Mughal saphs with three arches and palmette finials in the Keir collection.19   The elaborate swirling vinery and dense floral elements more closely resemble the 18th century millefleurs designs of the very finely woven pashmina shawls and rugs of Northern India. For examples of such delicate weavings see Daniel Walker, Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, New York, 1998, figs. 127 and 128, pp. 130-131. This legendary carpet would be mentioned whenever a Maharaja of Baroda was the subject of an article, for example that of Michael White, writing in the New York Times, May 13, 1906, "How Maharaja Gaekwar Became Ruler of Baroda," he states that: "Maharaja Gaekwar possesses the most costly piece of jewelry in the world.  In dazzling magnificence, it never has been, or is ever likely to be, excelled.  This treasure is in the form of a shawl or cloak of woven pearls, edged with a deep border of arabesque designs of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires." The Pearl Carpet of Baroda reflects the confluence of many Indian decorative traditions in addition to being one of the most luxuriant works of art ever created. But it's allure lies not only in the richness of the materials from which it was made: as Stuart Cary Welch writes: "However unbridled the opulence of its million pearls of excellent quality, of its fine diamonds, rubies, and emeralds beyond count, the design is suitably restrained and dignified, a classic arabesque descended from the Mughal tradition and probably inspired by the legendary jewelled covering ordered by Shah Jahan to adorn the cenotaph of Mumtaz-Mahal in the Taj Mahal.  If one approaches with an eye only for worldly delight, or even amusement, one soon backs off, sensing the degree of underlying seriousness and religious devotion." 20 It seems very likely that this carpet was commissioned in imitation of the Mughal bejewelled coverlet woven for the tomb of Mumtaz-Mahal at the Taj Mahal.  A ruler as grand and powerful as Shah Jahan would most certainly have been an inspiration for a Maharaja such as Khande Rao.  In the Pearl Carpet of Baroda a work of art was created that has captured the imagination of viewers for over a century to such an extent that its appeal transcends the use of pearls and gems and it remains a singular masterpiece and true reflection of the splendour of the Maharajas. 'Basra Pearls': A Princely Preference Besides being a magnificent manifestation of the taste and power of the maharajas, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda is also a reminder of the flourishing pearl-trade between the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Gulf . For over two millennia, pearl fishing was a steady source of income for the people living in the area surrounding the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The first-century geographer Isidorus Characenus noted in his work entitled Journey Around Parthia that the majority of the inhabitants of the city of Charax Spasinou, capital of the Kingdom of Characene, then part of the Parthian Empire, supported themselves by diving for pearls.21 Throughout the following centuries, locals from the Gulf region traded extensively with merchants from all around Asia and Europe, with their most reliable buyers coming from India. By the seventeenth century, most of the pearls harvested in the southern Gulf region and along the Arabian coast eventually ended up in the treasuries of the Indian elite who, as great lovers of gems and pearls, used them to adorn their lavish jewellery, decorative art objects, and textiles. The pearl trade dominated the Gulf's economy and reached its golden age in the mid-nineteenth century. Some of the highest quality pearls were discovered at this time and were then sold in Basra, centre of the trade, mostly to Indian merchants.22 Due to the excellence and abundance of the pieces exported from Basra, pearls from the Gulf region were known as 'Basra pearls' throughout the world. Between the 1850s and the early twentieth century, the vast majority of the pearls utilized by Indian jewellers were 'Basra pearls.' The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is the apotheosis of the Indian love of these pearls, its scintillating surface composed of countless 'Basra pearls.' To execute such a unique and precious object Khande Rao chose the best raw materials to match the unparalleled craftsmanship of artists he commissioned to execute this extraordinary work of art. Completely covering such a large surface with the most valued type of pearls, a meticulous work that took years to complete, clearly indicates that the Maharaja of Baroda only accepted the very best in design, craftsmanship and material. REFERENCES 1 For more information, see Francis Watson, A Concise History of India, London, 1987. 2 Tottenham, E. L., Highness of Hindustan, London, 1914, p. 154. 3 Maharaja of Baroda, The Palaces of India, New York, 1981, p. 151. 4 Bhuj Bushan, Jamila, Indian Jewelry, Ornaments and Decorative Designs, Bombay, 1964, p. 74. 5 ibid., pp. 74-75. 6 Carboni, Stefano, ed., Venice and the Islamic World, New York, 2006, p. 68. 7 Pope, Arthur Upham, A Survey of Persian Art, Vol. II, Tehran, 1938, p. 2273. 8 ibid., p. 2274. 9 ibid., pp. 2274-2275. 10 ibid., p. 2276. 11 Birdwood, George M., The Industrial Arts of India, London, 1880, p. 284. 12 Watt, George, Indian Art at Delhi, 1903, Calcutta, 1903, p. 444, pl. 59. For an illustration of the round carpet see the same. 13 Maeder, Edward and Dale Carolyn Gluckman, The Pearl Carpet of Baroda, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1985, p. 4 and footnote 14. 14 St. Clair Weeden, Edward, A Year with the Gaekwar of Baroda, Boston, 1909, pp. 310-312. 15 Tottenham, pp. 154-155. 16 ibid., p. 154; St. Clair Weeden, p. 312. 17 Welch, Stuart Cary, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, New York, 1986, p. 438. 18 Moore, Lucy, Maharanis, New York, 2004, p. 31 who in turn sites Phillip Sargeant, The Ruler of Baroda, London, 1928 19 Spuhler, Friedrich, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Keir Collection, London, 1978, no. 64, 65, p. 128. 20 Welch, p. 438 21 Mattern, Susan P., Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate, Berkeley, 2002, p. 34. 22 Bhuj Bushan, Jamila, Indian Jewelry, Ornaments and Decorative Designs, Bombay, 1955, p. 137.

  • USAUSA
  • 2009-03-19
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An isphahan carpet, central persia

This magnificent carpet was one of many that Senator William A. Clark purchased from Vitall Benguiat, the legendary dealer known as "The Pasha,"  see Wesley Towner, "The Pasha and the Magic Carpets; The story of Vitall Benguiat," Hali, vol. II, no. 3, pp. 183-191.  Benguiat appears to have been quite a character, largely self-educated, with a deep passion for textiles and carpets, a good eye and boundless energy.  Having come to the United States initially at the behest of the architect Stanford White in 1898, Benguiat went on to become the purveyor of fine carpets to tycoons such as J. P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, Henry Walters, Joseph E. Widener and Horace Havemeyer, although "no one attempted to compete with Senator William Clark, 'the richest man west of the Mississippi', whose Indo-Isphahans and velvets were believed to have cost him $3,000,000," ibid, p. 191.   Benguiat travelled to Europe on a regular basis in search of works of art for his American clients, with Portugal being a source for 'Indo-Isphahan' carpets.  It is in Portugal that he purchased the present lot as well as the pair of 'Braganza' carpets which descended through the Bragancas, the royal family of Portugal.   The pair of 'Braganza' carpets were sold by Benguiat through the American Art Association, December 4-5, 1925, lots 71 and 72 with the first now in a private collection, formerly in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, see Friedrich Spuhler, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, pl. 22 and the second once in the collection of Mrs Edsel B. Ford, eventually sold Christie's London, 22 April 1999, lot 101.  Three other Isphahan carpets that Benguiat purchased from the Fourth Duke of Lafões were also sold to Senator Clark, see Christie's New York, November 24, 2009, lots 29, 129 and 133. The unusually large size and long, narrow dimensions of this carpet denote that it was commissioned for a specific and very grand space. While the design elements are typical to Safavid Isphahan carpets, the configurations of curving lancet leaves into a Western armorial shape at either end of the field point to this carpet being commissioned by a European noble or royal patron.  In this instance, the carpet descended through the Dukes of Lafões, a title that was created in 1718 by King Joao V of Portugal (r. 1707-50) for the illegitimate descendants of his father, King Pedro II (r. 1683-1706).  The first Duke of Lafões was Joao V's nephew, Pedro Henrique de Braganca (1718-61), and it is more likely that he acquired the carpet than commissioned it, as it is most similar to Isphahan carpets dated to the 17th century featuring curling lancet leaves in the field and border designs.  Related carpets include another still in Portugal, see Jessica Hallett, "From the Looms of Yazd and Isfahan, Persian Carpets and Textiles in Portugal," Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World 1400-1700, Oxford 2010, p. 108, fig. 9 from the Convent de Lourical now in the Museo Naçional de Machado Castro, Coimbra, and one from the Benjamin Altman collection now in the Metropolitan Musem of Art, see M.S. Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1973, cat. no. 30, fig. 99, pp. 70 and 107.  Hallett, op.cit. p.106-110 proposes a chronology for Isphahan spiral-vine and palmette carpets based on structure and design types.  Group 1 are the earliest and are those having a part silk foundation; groups 2, 3 and 4 have all cotton foundations and designs progressing from vines, palmettes and cloudbands (group 2), to which are added curling lancet leaves (group 3), and culminating in group 4 with 'quatrefoil' arabesque field patterns and cypress trees in the border.  The first group are from the late 16th/early 17th century with groups 2, 3 and 4 following through the 17th century and into the early 18th century.  As she places The Lafões Carpet in the third group she dates it to the late 17th/early 18th century.   The intricate border to this carpet is unusual and found on a few carpets dated by scholars to the 17th century, including the two mentioned above, another carpet from the Clark collection, sold Christie's New York, November 24, 2009, lot 129; a fragment in the Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, see Friedrich Spuhler, Carpets from Islamic Lands, Kuwait, 2012, cat. 22, pp. 102-3; a fragmentary carpet sold V. & L. Benguiat Collection, American Art Association, New York, December 4-5, 1925, lot 35; and a carpet once in the collection of J. Paul Getty, sold Sotheby’s New York, September 24, 1991, lot 239. Prior to entering into the collection of the Duke of Lafões, this carpet may have been in the collection of the royal family or another Portuguese aristocrat.   It is enticing to speculate that it may have been one of the "140 carpets of such extraordinary magnificence..." that covered the pavement at the 1669 baptism of Isabel Louisa, daughter of future King Pedro II, for the quote see Viterbo, F.M., Artes e Artistas em Portugal, Lisbon, 1920 sited in Hallett, op.cit., p. 115.  The scale of the design elements and their elegant rendering in this carpet are perfectly balanced as they are mirrored end to end.  The cloudbands are both intricately drawn and robust in character; the palmettes and leaves are lushly feathered and all are woven in complex color juxtapositions to create a carpet suitable for the sumptuous space, if not palace, for which it was commissioned.    Senator Clark decorated a large painting gallery in his New York mansion with this carpet, however, its remarkable condition suggests that this was a gallery reserved for only the most exclusive guests. Please note that a license may be required to export textiles, rugs and carpets of Iranian origin from the United States. Clients should enquire with the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regarding export requirements. Please check with the Carpet department if you are uncertain as to whether a lot is subject to this restriction or if you need assistance.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-06-05
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A safavid carpet, east persia

Classical Persian carpets decorated with scenes of animals and gardens are often referred to as 'Paradise Garden' or 'Hunting' carpets.  The theme of the Paradise Garden is an ancient one.  The word 'paradise' derives from pairi-daeza (meaning a walled-in park), in Avestan, the archaic language of the Zoroastrians and is possibly the origin of the concept of the Garden of Eden.  The cypress tree motif is also an ancient symbol of Paradise.  In pre-Islamic Iran, it was believed that the moon was the source of eternal life and its elixir was contained in the sap of the 'moon-tree', generally represented as a cypress.  The Koran suggests that the devout Muslim male will be transported to a heavenly garden after death, where he will be waited upon by winged houris (celestial beings).  In Timurid and Safavid Iran, Paradise parks were vast game reserves in which the King and his court indulged in their beloved sport of hunting.  The Paradise Garden is thus a symbol for both earthly and heavenly delights and provided the thematic inspiration for many of the greatest Persian carpets woven during the 16th and 17th centuries. The majority of these carpets have a large central lobed medallion with pendants, on a ground depicting a verdant landscape with animals, sometimes also including mounted huntsmen, mythical birds and houris. Pope, A.U. A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1939, illustrates several, please see pls. 1203-1210 for examples.  One of the more renowned of these being the Sanguszko carpet, now in the Miho Museum, Japan, illustrated as plate 1206, attributed to Kerman, and which displays all the elements noted above.  The present example is unusual for the absence of a medallion: the design is symmetrically arranged both vertically and horizontally around a small lobed flower head, with cypress and flowering trees pointing inwards from each end and with pairs of animals and birds disposed between them.  Miniature paintings of the period often show us the suzerain seated in the middle of a carpet, with his courtiers around the perimeter.  Consequently the composition of these courtly carpets is frequently designed to be viewed from the center. In addition, this compounds the sensation that one is actually within a Paradise garden, seated amongst the trees and flowers and with animals all around.  In this carpet the wildlife includes stags, with bold yellow antlers, deer, tigers, lions in combat with bulls, gazelles and antelopes, parrots, ring-collar doves and peacocks. The border of the present example is composed of lobed cartouches alternating with poly-lobed roundels, linked by small orbs.  A similar border device is found in the Ardabil carpet in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is inscribed and dated 1539-40, see Wearden, J, Oriental Carpets and their Structure, Highlights from the V & A Collection, London, 2003, pl. 29, p. 46; related borders can be seen in the 'Compartment and Tree' carpet, Clam Gallas Collection, illustrated in Pope, op.cit., pl. 1143 and dated to the middle or late 16th century and in a Medallion Carpet dated to the second quarter of the 16th century, Collection Heinrich Wulff, illustrated Pope, ibid., pl. 1119.  The narrow guard borders which flank the main border are composed of quadrilobed flower heads interspersed with small palmettes springing from delicate vines; these are most closely paralleled in the guard stripes seen in a late 16th century circular floral carpet, tentatively attributed to Kirman by Pope, from the Collection Marquet de Vasselot, see Pope, ibid., pl. 1212; related guards exist on the 'Medallion and Animal' carpet in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Inv. no. 23-1883, see Wearden, op.cit. pl. 28, p. 45 and the late 16th century de Behague -- Thyssen Bornemisza 'Medallion and Animal' carpet, illustrated Pope, op.cit., pl. 1210. The theme of the Paradise Garden is to be found in several of the great 16th and 17th century Persian carpets from the important weaving centers of Tabriz, Kirman, Kashan and Yezd.  The present example has the rich, jewel-like range of colors and structure associated with East Persian carpet production.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-11-04
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A safavid carpet, isphahan, central persia

Technical Analysis Warp: silk, Z2S, yellow Weft: cotton, Z2S ivory, 3 shoots Pile: wool, asymmetrical knot, open to the left Density: 15-17 horizontal; 15-17 vertical Sides: not original Ends: not original This richly colored carpet with its complex, layered design of spiraling tendrils terminating in palmettes belongs to the red ground, so-called  "spiral-vine" or “in and out palmette,” group of carpets believed to have been woven in Isphahan during the Safavid dynasty (1502-1732.)  This particular design appeared first in the sixteenth century and continued to find favor throughout the seventeenth century.  In the present lot, the flowering, swirling vines are supported by sinuous cloudbands and pairs of birds of varying plumage.  The earliest examples of the spiral-vine carpets are characterized by the use of silk in the foundation, an unusually wide variety of colors and superbly delineated drawing, as in the present lot.   The most well- known carpets that belong to this early group are the pair of “Emperors’ Carpets” with one now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the other in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna; see respectively Dimand, M., and Mailey, Jean, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, fig. 76, cat.no. 12; "The Emperor's Old Carpets," Hali, issue 31, p. 15.  These two carpets feature animals in the design in addition to the birds and cloudbands found here. In Safavid Persia, silk was one of the most expensive materials available, and therefore was reserved for use by the court, and the most elite workshops where highly skilled weavers executed designs supplied by court artists.  The crisply drawn, intricate and symmetrically balanced design of the present carpet suggests that it was almost certainly executed from such a very detailed cartoon.  This, coupled with the use of silk in the foundation, indicates that the present lot can be justly labeled as a “court carpet” – a term often erroneously applied.   Silk was so highly prized and prestigious a commodity that some contemporaneous carpets woven on cotton warps would then have silk fringes tied to the warps, a feature seen even on the iconic “Emperors’ Carpet” in Vienna, see Hali, op.cit., p. 15.  Exporting silk at high profits to neighboring countries, or even as far as Italy, provided substantial income for the Safavid court.  Just how extremely treasured silk was is illustrated by the fact that Sultan Selim I attempted to ban the export of silk from Persia to the Ottoman Empire in order to weaken the Safavid economy. Interestingly, by the end of the seventeenth century the “in and out palmette” pattern fell almost completely out of favor in Persia as well as in the export markets of England and of continental Europe. Surviving documentation from the East India Company, which was the main exporter of these carpets to the West, indicates the decline of popularity of “in and out palmette” carpets. A letter from the company’s governors from 1686 state: “You must never send us any more Persian carpets, for those that we had by way of Surat will not yield us here above a third of what they cost in Persia, which gives us just that cause to fear that we were abused in the price of them, the greater cause of our loss being that such rich carpets are now grown much out of use in Europe,” see J. Irwin, “Indian Textile Trade in the Seventeenth Century,” Journal of Indian Textile Trade, I, 1955, pp. 5-33.  In the nineteenth century there was a resurgance of Western interest in the exotic which included carpets from the East or the Orient.  The red ground, spiral vine and palmette carpets such as this lot were once again in great demand with carpets such as this being as prestigious and coveted as Old Master paintings by collectors such as the Rothschilds, J.P Morgan and the Fricks, in the first quarter of the twentieth century.  The vivid color and remarkable state of preservation of the carpet offered here attests to its having been a treasured object for over 400 years. Another related carpet with only birds embellishing the spiral-vine pattern is the “Enzenberg spiral-vine carpet” in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, see Spuhler, F., The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, pl. 20.   More closely related to the field design of the carpet offered here is that of a carpet from the Kelekian Collection, see Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, London and New York, 1939, pl. 1186.  According to Pope, carpets such as this lot may have been woven for use in mosques as they omit depicting any animals or human figures which would be considered sacrilege, while the representation of birds was permissible, see ibid., p. 2363.  Another closely related silk foundation carpet, although somewhat less complex in design as it does not depict birds, sold Christie’s London, 16 April 2007, lot 100 ($1,530,014).  Related fragments include one from the Collection of the late Robert De Calatchi, Paris and sold Sotheby’s London, October 4, 2000, lot 79; one in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, see Kurt Erdmann, Der Orientalische Knüpfteppich, Tübingen, 1955, Abb. 79; one from the collection of Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller sold Sotheby’s New York, June 4, 1998, lot 10; and another at Galerie Koller, Zurich, March 28, 2001, lot 1061.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-02-01
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A magnificent pair of ormolu-mounted ebony, jasper, porphyry and pietra

Each with an inset veneered jasper top of inverted breakfront form, the frieze drawer with porphyry ground, centered by a cameo of a Bacchic mask forming the keyhole, flanked by ormolu foliate scrolls and garlands of husks, the corners fitted with ormolu bearded masks above free-standing jasper columns with ormolu Corinthian capitals; the panelled front centered by a pietra dura plaque incorporating a bird perched in a vase of fruit including cherries, pears, grapes, plums and peaches executed in a variety of hard stones including lapis lazuli, amethyst and jasper, contained within a lapis lazuli border and a cushion molded porphyry border within ormolu leaf tips borders; the slightly outset rectangular base fitted with a reeded border with foliate clasps, the apron fitted with shells flanked by foliate scrolls and garlands of husks, raised on spirally-fluted ormolu legs cast with chandelles; the sides fitted with complementary ormolu mounts centered by a large trefoil within a roundel on a porphyry ground. COMPARATIVE LITERATURE C. Wainwright, The Romantic Interior, New Haven & London, 1989, pp. 109-147. A.-M. Giusti, Pietre Dure, Hardstones in Furniture and Decoration, London, 1992, pp. 194-222. WILLIAM BECKFORD (1670-1844) William Beckford was indisputably one of the greatest English collectors of his day; he was one of the richest men in England and an inveterate traveler.  His storied life has made it difficult for his biographers to distinguish between the recorded facts and Beckford’s own imaginative inventions and fantasties, however his reputation as a collector of the first order is beyond question.  He was a serious collector of Asian and Islamic works of art, including, amongst other things, a priceless collection of lacquer-work.  He also collected in the more traditional fields of mediaeval, Renaissance and later works of art, fine arts, furniture, rare books and other curiosities. Beckford was the son of Alderman William Beckford (d.1770) who was famed as the builder of Fonthill Splendens in Wiltshire; he also served as Lord Mayor of London.  Beckford was father to two daughters, one of whom, Susan Euphemia, would marry Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, later 10th Duke of Hamilton (d.1852) of Hamilton Palace, the repository of another great English collection.  Like Beckford, the Duke of Hamilton was a passionate connoisseur and collected, amongst other things, extremely important French furniture. Beckford lived for many years outside England.  He took up residence in Paris in 1788 on the eve of the Revolution, renting the richly decorated and celebrated Hôtel d’Orsay on the rue de Varenne.  He remained in Paris and took advantage of the fact that after the Revolution, there was an unparalleled opportunity to acquire extraordinary works of art and furniture with the most distinguished provenances. Beckford eventually returned to England, settling in Fonthill Splendens where, in 1796, he instituted the work of his lifetime, the creation of Fonthill Abbey. By 1822, he had created the best known and most discussed building in Britain, but not without a devastating drain on his financial resources, and so he announced the contents for sale.  The extravagant building did not long survive its eventual sale to John Farquhar, collapsing entirely in 1825. By this time, Beckford had settled in Bath, living in Lansdown Crescent.  He also maintained, as he always had, a London residence and it is not yet clear which of these residences the present cabinets were destined for. THE BECKFORD CABINETS The present cabinets have been fully documented by Philip Hewat-Jaboor and Bet McLeod, who note that in 1824 when they were commissioned, Beckford had been relieved of the financial burden of Fonthill Abbey and was enjoying a period of renewed collecting and commissioning.  In the late 1780’s, when in Portugal as a young man shortly after the death of his wife, Beckford had met Gregorio Franchi who would become his agent during the 1790’s.  Franchi was as knowledgeable as Beckford and had a particular appreciation of hardstones and lapidary work.  It was Franchi who oversaw the assembly of these cabinets in Paris, probably in concert with Robert Hume who was the cabinet-maker most frequently employed by Beckford, and by his son-in-law, the Duke of Hamilton. Hume was recorded as an agent for Beckford in 1828 (The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, Leeds, 1986, p. 462), and the link between these cabinets and Hume is a clock-cabinet which he created for the Duke of Hamilton c. 1820-22 which incorporates identical jasper columns with identical ormolu Corinthian capitals cast with cinquefoils.  This suggests that all these columns and capitals derive from the same earlier piece of furniture.  (For the Duke of Hamilton's clock-cabinet see, Anna Maria Massinelli, Hardstones, p. 49, no. 9). A sketch of one of these two cabinets (now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford), appears on a blank piece of paper which was part of the Beckford Papers, (sold, Sotheby’s, London, July 6, 1977 lot 272), entitled: “The archive of William Beckford’s literary manuscripts, correspondence and personal papers” which had been bequeathed to Beckford’s daughter.  These papers had remained in the Hamilton family until 1977 and the sketch was in a file of the archive catalogued as: Collections and designs of work of art, furniture and pictures and more specifically: Collection of receipts and list, many in the hand of Beckford’s boy-friend Gregorio Franchi for objects and stained glass purchased from dealers, artists and auctions … The pietra dura panels were more than likely supplied by Hume (see Adriana Turpin, William Beckford (op.cit.) p. 191).  Franchi purchased the jasper for the columns and the Egyptian porphyry in Rome, and he wrote to Beckford in November 1824:             “The two cabinets that are being made in Paris cannot be finished without bringing from here the necessary porphyry and slabs that are supposed to be the background for the gilt bronze mounts”.  The carcases were probably recycled from an earlier piece of furniture, and the gilt-bronze mounts were made by an as yet unidentified bronzier in Paris.  In January 1825, Franchi sent a report on the progress:             “from Paris I have news that the dealer has the wood ready and that they are finished.  The bronzes are still being made”. The bacchic cameo masks were also found in Rome: “the keyholes are two magnificent masks of agate, a milk-colour on a dark ground, that are in the hands of a disciple of Girometti”. Jaboor & McLeod, ibid. p. 413. THE PIETRA DURA PANELS The present panels can be attributed to the Florentine craftsman, Giovanni Ambrogio Giacchetti who worked at the Gobelins in Paris between 1670-1675.  His signature appears on the back of a very similar panel on a Louis XVI commode in the Royal Palace of Stockholm.  Another almost identical panel is mounted on a Louis XVI commode by Martin Carlin in the British Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace; this commode is mounted with further smaller pietra dura plaques two of which are signed by Giacchetti (see, Alvar González-Palacios, Il Gusto dei Principe, Vol. II, 1993, pp.30-31).  The Carlin commode was acquired by George IV in 1828, close to the date of the present lot and indicative of the prevailing taste in England for furniture in the 'antique' style of Louis XIV. THE BECKFORD/HAMILTON CINQUEFOIL The 'cinquefoil pierced ermine' lily heraldic device derives from the Hamilton arms to which Beckford was entitled through his mother, Maria Hamilton Beckford (d. 1798, daughter of the Hon. George Hamilton, son of James, 6th Earl of Abercorn).  He made full use of his entitlement and this device was applied to a number of pieces of furniture; it was found tooled on the spines of his books, on his porcelain, and engraved on his silver, and was ubiquitous in the decoration of Fonthill Abbey. STAFFORD HOUSE Stafford House, better known now as Lancaster House, was built in 1825 by Benjamin Wyatt for the “grand old” Duke of York.  The Duke of York died before it was completed in 1827 and the house, then known as York House, was sold by the government to the Marquis of Sutherland in 1828.  Re-styled ‘Stafford House’ the Marquis contributed greatly to its completion, but died shortly after being elevated to 1st Duke of Sutherland in 1833 and before seeing the house finished.  His son, the 2nd Duke of Sutherland had completed the work by 1842 and lived there with his wife until his death in 1861.  At that time, Stafford House was widely regarded as the grandest town house in London and was celebrated for its collections, as noted by Charles Dickens, in 1879: STAFFORD HOUSE belonging to the Duke of Sutherland, situated near the St. James’s Palace – and a palace itself – has a  magnificent collection of pictures, including the portion of the Stafford Gallery which did not pass with the Bridgewater Gallery. There is no private collection of pictures in London better worthy of careful inspection than this. Stafford House has been the scene of some of the most superb receptions ever given in this country. Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879 It cannot be determined exactly whether it was the 1st or the 2nd Duke of Sutherland who acquired these cabinets since it was more than likely a private sale during the 1830s when Beckford found that he needed to raise funds.  The transaction certainly took place, however, before 1839 when the cabinets are recorded in an inventory taken at Stafford House: No. 38, Green velvet room … two dwarf commodes of marble & ormolu ornamented with polished stones,with columns of fine jasper and the tops of jasper.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-11-04
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Introvert

"[My chosen media] are sourced from my immediate environment, they have been put to intense human use. They are thought to have lost value. They are ignored, discarded or thrown away ... To me, their provenance imbues or charges them with history and content, which I seek to explore in order to highlight certain conditions of mankind's existence, as well as his relationship with himself and the environment. I therefore try to bring these objects back, to present them again in ways which seem to make them confront their former lives and the lives of those who have used them." - El Anatsui quoted in Susan Mullin Vogel, El Anatsui: Art and Life, 2012, p. 104 Internationally acclaimed, El Anatsui is one of the most exhilarating contemporary visual artists to have emerged from Ghana, West Africa. Distilling through his revolutionary vision, Anatsui develops unique methods of creation and fantastical fabric manipulation, effectively creating powerful works which address a vast range of social, political and historical topics. Introvert from Anatsui's iconic bottle-top installations is a mesmerising multi-coloured tapestry, created from thousands of aluminium bottle-tops sewn together with copper wire, forming a gleaming metallic blanket. Introvert exemplifies Anatsui’s signatory method of artistic production coupled with his principle ideology of reassigning purpose to waste material in order to recount a rich and wonderful heritage. Transforming found objects into fine art, Anatsui's cloths cause the observer to examine their preconceptions of waste material, its relationship to beauty and how art cannot be confined to strict definitions. This series was originally conceived ten years ago subsequent to the artist examining the contents of a household rubbish can, in which he found numerous vibrantly coloured metal screw tops of liquor bottles from local distilleries. He collected these from several bins and began to manipulate the materials which he had collected. The artist’s exquisite textiles are formed from hammered, cut, and folded caps; which are then sewn together with copper wire, giving the sculpture freedom of movement, leading to breath-taking manipulations of light and shadow. Susan Mullin Vogel notes "All drapings create a kind of visual dissonance, between the plastic forms of the draping and the graphic forms of the compositions. Just as viewers see first the whole tissue, then the individual tesserae of Anatsui's suspended sculptures, they simultaneously apprehend dramatically lit and and shadowed volumes overlaid by lines and colors that bear no compositional relationship to them" (Susan Mullin Vogel, El Anatsui: Art and Life, New York, 2012, p. 130). This distinctive method produces metal carpet works such as Introvert on an epic scale which succeed in inspiring awe within the viewer. These colourful geometric patterns are reminiscent of the variations found within kente cloth, a native tapestry of Ghana. Originally worn by kings for official occasions, kente cloth is correspondingly of great importance to Ghanaians, commemorating events, persons and purposes. Anatsui's work alludes to the cultural history of Ghana, weaving the mutual histories of past and present into one whilst crafting an enchantingly fluid tapestry imbued with layers of memories. Within his works, the artist skillfully evokes the recognised aesthetics of painting without the application of physical paint. In Introvert, Anatsui effectively creates contemporary art with antiquated qualities connecting the individual and collective histories of the African continent; referencing its history, consumption, and globalisation.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-04-21
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A 'polonaise' silk and metal-thread rug, isphahan or kashan, central persia

The hallmark shimmering silver and gold tones over a saturated ground color of ‘Polonaise’ carpets was achieved by wrapping extremely fine silver-gilt and silver thread diagonally around silk threads. These metal threads were wound around the silk core in a way that the silk remained partially visible; for a gold effect the metal thread was wrapped around yellow silk and for silver, white silk. As a result of this technique the colors blended harmoniously into solid shades of gold and silver in the eyes of the onlooker. This effect has deteriorated with time due to the corrosion of metal threads, which renders them dark, however it is still partially visible in some surviving rugs, such as the one offered here. Most surviving 'Polonaise' rugs have not retained their original coloring due to the fugitive dyes used at the time.  It is precisely the well-conserved emerald green field color that makes this lot particularly rare and attractive.  A medallion "Polonaise" rug in the Hallwylska Museum, Stockholm also features a green field, see Annette Grunland, et al., ICOC XII, Stockholm 2011, p. 31, and another rug formerly in the Benguiat collection and then that of Endre Ungar was sold (privately after the auction) at Sotheby's London, 28 April 1993, lot 61.  When viewing this rug, one can easily imagine the vibrancy of the original colors of the many now faded ‘Polonaise’ rugs that were originally juxtaposed with the shimmering metal brocading. Related small format "Polonaise" rugs with an overall vinery and arabesque design include two illustrated by A.U. Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford 1936, pls. 1242 and 1243; the latter, the Czartoryski rug, in color, Christie's London, 11 October 1990, lot 34. The design of the present rug is most similar to the crimson ground palmette and vinery wool rugs also produced in Safavid workshops, now generally attributed to Isphahan.  In this rug, the split-leaf arabesques of the field pattern are unusually bold and attenuated as in a rug from the Fletcher collection now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, see M. Dimand and J. Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1973, cat. no. 23, fig. 90 and in the Yerkes-Schiff-Getty "Polonaise" rug sold Sotheby's New York, 8 December 1990, lot 3.  The Yerkes-Schiff-Getty rug also employed emerald green as its major border color.   In the rug here offered the border arabesques are more similar to those in the field of the Rothschild-Kevorkian-Getty "Polonaise," sold Sotheby's New York, 8 December 1990, lot 2 and now in a European collection.  Here, the interlocking and dense design becomes almost secondary to the color in order to create an overall harmonious surface.  One can only hypothesize whether the weaver of this rug aimed for this effect, nevertheless, the end product is a particularly lavish and dazzling representation of Safavid court art. Incorporating brilliant metal-thread and silk brocading and having a distinctive color palette comprising soft gold tones accented by vivid blues, subtle greens and gentle shades of reds, 'Polonaise' rugs stand out as a distinct group among classical Persian pile weavings. The term 'Polonaise' is a misnomer for these Central Persian rugs. In 1878, a number of silk and metal-thread carpets from the collection of Prince Ladislas Czartoryski were exhibited at the Paris International Exhibition. As some of the carpets displayed the Czartoryski coat-of-arms, it was assumed that these rugs were made in Poland. The Polish attribution persisted and these carpets still bear the name 'Polonaise' in spite the fact that it was later recognized that this group was the product of Persian looms, most likely located in Kashan or Isphahan.  Their manufacture was closely associated with the Persian Royal court and there are several recorded instances of their being presented as gifts to foreign courts by the embassies of Shah Abbas I (1587-1628), Shah Safi (1629-1642) and Shah Abbas II (1642-1674).  Woven during the golden age of Safavid art, it is only befitting that 'Polonaise' rugs with their silk, gold and silver-thread epitomize this era to many scholars and collectors today, who view these rugs with appreciation equal to that of the European travelers visiting the Persian court during the first half of the seventeenth century.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-10-01
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An ottoman circular carpet, cairo, egypt

The present lot is unquestionably a highly interesting and rare carpet; while its shape renders it uncommon, its design makes it a very intriguing transitional piece between earlier Mamluk carpets and later Ottoman weavings produced in Cairo. Carpet weaving in Cairo dates back to the age of the Mamluk Sultans, who set up workshops primarily to satisfy Western demands. A few decades after the Ottomans conquered the Mamluk Sultanate in 1517, these workshops began producing rugs and carpets for the Court in Istanbul. The talent and craft of Cairene weavers was in such high regard with the Ottomans that in 1585 Sultan Murad III requested eleven master weavers and wool to be sent to Istanbul from Egypt.  Interestingly, even after the Ottoman takeover, Cairene workshops continued to produce pieces for the European market, which shows not only how hungry the West was for oriental carpets but also how financially lucrative the workshops were since the Sultan in Istanbul allowed the trade to continue.  Italy was the main market for these carpets, with Venice and Genoa being centers of import and distribution. Because of the continuously successful export of these carpets, Cairene weavers created new shapes that were foreign to the domestic market: in addition to the conventional rectangular format, square, cruciform, octagonal and round pieces were made for the European market. Such pieces were often described in Italian inventories as “tapedi da desco” and “tapedi da tavola,” or table carpets.  A Cairene carpet that was made in a cruciform shape such that the sides would hang over the edges of a table is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, see "The South Kensington Ideal," Hali, issue 96, fig. 5, inv. no. 151-1883. The use of oriental rugs as table covers was customary in Europe during the sixteenth century, as many contemporary paintings illustrate. Interestingly, probably due to their large size and complex design, Mamluk and Cairene carpets seldom appear in Old Master paintings. French and German inventories are also known to include round carpets, some of them specifically mentioning Genoa as their place of origin. Italy being a place of distribution of these carpets is reflected in the Sforza provenance of the present carpet. Octagonal and circular carpets are among the rarest of Cairene carpets, with the present example being one of only four known in existence: one formerly in the Piero Barbieri Collection and sold Sotheby’s London, October 12-13, 1982, lot 38; an unpublished one in the Qatar Museum of Islamic Art; and one reputedly in the archiepiscopal palace in Kroměříž, Czech Republic, see Michael Franses, “Classical Context,” Hali, Issue 129, pp. 68-69. As mentioned above, the drawing of this carpet consists of both earlier Mamluk combined with Ottoman design elements, here arranged in a particularly spacious manner; the field and the medallion are decorated with rosettes, tulips, palmettes and saz leaves, which are also found in the Cairene rug that is lot 2 in this catalogue. The border, however, is populated by eight-pointed stars and papyrus umbrellas, motifs typical to Mamluk carpets of the fifteenth century. The eight-pointed stars of the border derive from polygonal and interlaced patterns which had been used in other branches of the decorative arts and in architecture throughout the Islamic world. In addition to the design elements of the border, the overall color palette is more Mamluk than Ottoman with the typical five hues: red, blue, green, yellow and ivory. Because the pile is unusually well preserved for this carpet’s age, the colors are particularly lush and rich which, coupled with the uncommon format, makes this lot particularly rare.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-06-05
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EXCEPTIONNELLE SUITE DE TROIS TAPISSERIES de la même tenture

EXCEPTIONNELLE SUITE DE TROIS TAPISSERIES de la même tenture inspirées des métamorphoses d'Ovide « l'histoire de Diane » ou « les chasses des Dieux » (note 1) tissées dans les Flandres en 1591 ou 1610 dans les ateliers de Frans SPIERING (note 2). La chasse au cerf, porte les inscriptions au dessous des deux personnages au bas des bordures latérales gauche et droite, « VLXSSE.ET CIRCE » et « LEANDRE .ET .HAERO » Dim. 3,60 x 2,60 m La chasse à la panthère ou au lion, porte sous les deux personnages inferieurs des bordures latérales gauche et droite : « LEANDRE ET EROS » et « MERCVRIVS .ET.HERSE » Dim. 3,60 x 4,00 m La chasse au sanglier, porte sous les deux personnages inférieurs des bordures latérales gauche et droite « MARS.ET.VENVS » et « MERCURIUS.ET. HERSE » Dim. 3,60x 4,70 m Tapisserie très fine (entre 7 et 8 fils de chaîne au centimètre) en laine et soie avec une nappe de chaîne en laine. Elles sont dans un très bon état de conservation avec leurs couleurs et n'ont subit que des restaurations de conservation d'usage et d'entretien. (Quelques légers accidents et usures). Dans cette suite présentées par ordre de taille croissante, deux d'entres, la deuxième et la troisième, portent la signature: 'FRANCISCUS SPIRINGUS FECIT' dans la partie haute (lisière jaune) de la bordure inférieure au centre. Ces mêmes tapisseries portent également la marque de la ville de Bruxelles au bas inférieur gauche (note 3). La troisième porte aussi en bas de la bordure droite vers l'extérieur sur le liseré bleu la signature quelque peu hermétique en lettres enchevêtrées du peintre qui a réalisé les cartons : Karel van MANDER (note 4) Le sujet de l'histoire de Diane dans les métamorphoses d'Ovide, Spiering le traita deux fois en deux séries et chacune d'après des cartons différents. Une série qui fait environ 3,5 m de haut (catalogue Rijksmuseum. 52A, B et C) dont nos tapisseries feraient partie et un deuxième série dont cinq pièces sont connues et font 2,7 m de hauteur. La grande série de huit tapisseries semble par son style maniériste antérieure de vingt ans à la seconde. Il y aurait douze tapisseries selon certaines sources (note 5). Par contre, huit ou neuf pièces sont connues grâce à la vente Barney. Cette tenture se compose au dire de cet inventaire des pièces suivantes : « La fierté de Niobé » dont il serait connu deux exemplaires ( inventaire Rijksmuseum 52A) « Latone et les paysans Lyciens » (Inventaire Rijksmuseum 52B) « Cephalus et Procris » (Inventaire Rijksmuseum 52D) « La mort de Procris, » « Diane surprise par Actéon », « Actéon mis en pièce par ses chiens », « Jupiter et Calysto », « la naissance de Diane » et « la fuite de Latona devant Junon et le serpent Python ». Il y aurait donc deux tentures des chasses des dieux tissées l'une en 1591 (dont nos tapisseries feraient partie) signées sans « fecit » et sans date, ainsi qu'une autre portant la date de 1610 t dont le nom du licier serait suivi de « fecit ». La finesse de point de nos tapisseries irait dans le sens de cette antériorité. Les tapisseries : Ce qui surprend dans ces tapisseries c'est, le traitement des sujets. Il est un mélange de modernisme avec cette esthétique nouvelle des personnages maniéristes très allongés au positions affectées et de la tradition des tapisseries plus anciennes, faite de cette vision en plongée et à la multiplicité des décors qui ne laisse aucune zone vide comme on peut le voir entre autres dans les tapisseries du moyen-âge à mille fleurs. Pourtant un élan spécifique est apporté par la vie des scènes et la multiplicité des personnages. La renaissance Italienne a imprégné l'ensemble par les tenues à la romaine, la luxuriance des vêtements et cette dynamique de la composition dans l'action. Les bordures : Ces trois pièces sont d'une luxuriance de décor exceptionnelle. Elles sont de tailles différentes mais ont la même bordure adaptée pour chacune d'entre elles, qui est d'une richesse d'ornementation peu commune. Au centre en haut et en bas, figurent des quadriges de chevaux surmontés de Cupidon sur des braises enflammées qui décoche ses flèches. C'est là le symbole de « l'amour brûlant ». De chaque coté des bouquets de fleurs et de fruits se succèdent avec des sphinges, d'autres éléments végétaux de fleurs et de fruits et d'autres putti. Les bordures latérales sont organisées autour de motifs de candélabre de la même manière. Aux quatre angles des personnages dont deux dieux et déesses en chaque partie basse dont les noms sont inscrits en lettres romaines. Les cartons de ces tapisseries : Ils ont été réalisés par le peintre Karel van Mander dont le style est très clairement reconnaissable. Les personnages aux corps très allongés et aux attitudes et poses artificielles et affectées sont issus du Maniérisme que Van Mander adopta lors des ses voyages à Rome et à Prague. C'est lui qui introduisit cette nouvelle vogue dans la ville de Haarlem. Parmi les œuvres restantes de Spiering, la tenture de Diane est celle où il mit tous les éléments décoratifs flamands en les interprétant avec délicatesse et fantaisie. N'oublions pas que Van Mander à qui les cartons sont attribués habitait Haarlem ville très proche de Delft ou travaillait Frans Spiering. D'autres parts le monogramme de ce peintre au dessin ésotérique se trouve sur une de nos tapisseries. On trouve également ce monogramme associé aux lettres de « Holland blason Delft » sur la tenture « La fierté de Niobé » qui se trouvent au Rijksmuseum. Ceci est confirmé par « Encyclopedia of world art » 1967 volume 13 page 930. Les tapisseries du Rijksmuseum. Une des grandes difficultés de classification de ces tapisseries est que selon les sources que l'on utilise elles portent des noms différents. D'autres part nous sommes trompés par les noms de Dieux qui figurent dans les bordures. Ce musée possède une des tapisseries qui proviendraient de la collection BARNEY qui est « L'orgueil de Niobé ». Nous savons que la tapisserie de Niobé du Rijksmuseum a été tissée deux fois et que l'autre exemplaire se trouvait dans une collection à KNOLE en Angleterre celle de lord Sackeville Kent avant 1958 portant seulement la signature sans la date à l'inverse de celle que possède le Rijksmuseum. D'après le Rijksmuseum deux tapisseries auraient les marques de Bruxelles. Elles ne sont pas localisées. (peut être les nôtres). Des fragments peuvent aussi être associés à cette tenture. La vente BARNEY. Les autres sont décrites dans la liste de la vente Barney (riche homme d'affaires américain) qui aurait eu lieu en 1937 ou 1938. Il y aurait une liste tapée à la machine avec des descriptions détaillées et des photos établie par les frères DUVEEN (importants négociants internationaux d'objets d'art) et qui est conservée dans les archives du Getty Institute. Ces six tapisseries ont été exposées dans la galerie des tapisseries du Metropolitan à New York. Mort de Procris Diane observée par Actéon Actéon déchiré par ses chiens Jupiter et Callisto La naissance de Diane et Latone qui s'enfuit (Petite) Cephalos et Procris ? Note 1 Un grand nombre de récits mythologiques s'articulent autour du thème de la chasse et beaucoup de héros grecs sont des héros chasseurs. La chasse est un mode d'éducation par lequel le héros apprend à maîtriser le monde sauvage et à affronter les animaux les plus féroces. Elle est aussi une initiation à la ruse et à la guerre. Parmi les héros mythologiques qui s'adonnent à la chasse, Méléagre est l'un des plus souvent représentés. C'est dans ses Métamorphoses qu'Ovide relate l'histoire de cette inconsciente victime de la vengeance de Diane. Le funeste sujet sera repris volontiers par les artistes, notamment à travers la tapisserie. Nos tapisseries illustrent parfaitement ce goût de la chasse et de sa signification allégorique. Elle est aussi appelée l'histoire de Diane parce que celle-ci joue un rôle prépondérant dans cette tenture. Note 2 Frans Spiering (1549/51-1631) est né à Anvers où il possédait un atelier de tapisserie florissant lorsque les troupes Espagnoles y entrèrent en 1576. Il travailla ensuite à Bruxelles mais les conditions économiques avec l'occupation Espagnole l'obligèrent à partir dans cette période de récession. Des villes sans tradition de tapisseries ont accueilli des nouveaux ateliers et les villes comme Delft où il y avait peu de tradition de tissage prit un grand essor. Spiering vint d'Anvers à Delft en 1590 ou 1591. C'est dans ses ateliers qu'ont été tissées les pièces de la tenture de la destruction de l'invincible Armada qui était autrefois à Londres à la chambre des communes et n'existent plus après la destruction du Parlement. Les tapisseries de Spiering étaient considérées comme les plus belles et les plus prestigieuses de son époque ce qui lui valut d'avoir de nombreuses commandes. Note 3 Nous savons que Spiering qui a travaillé à Anvers, Bruxelles et Delft a continué à utiliser les marques de Bruxelles alors qu'il était à Delft parce qu'il est reconnu qu'il ne marquait pas les tapisseries de leur ville de fabrication. N'oublions pas non plus que le temps nécessaire au tissage d'une tapisserie était de plusieurs années et qu'il est possible qu'une pièce commencée à Bruxelles ait été terminée à Delft. Note 4 Karel van Mander, peintre et historien hollandais (1548-1606). Son Het Schilder-Boeck, sur le modèle des 'Vies' de Vasari, et qui contient 175 biographies, est une des principales sources biographiques sur l'art flamand, hollandais et allemand des XVe et XVIe siècles. Il fit le voyage à Rome et à Prague et fut imprégné du maniérisme Italien qu'il diffusa dans les Flandres et les Pays Bas. Il fit de nombreux cartons de tapisseries toutes imprégnées de ce maniérisme . C'est après les ravages causés par l'occupation espagnole (1573-1577), que Haarlem connaît une prompte renaissance pour devenir à la fin du XVIe siècle l'un des grands centres d'éclosion du Maniérisme septentrional. Trois artistes vont, dès les années 1580, unir leurs efforts pour imposer ce nouvel idiome, à la fois expressif et raffiné : le graveur Hendrick Goltzius, le peintre Cornelisz van Haarlem, Karel van Mander enfin, l'auteur des cartons de nos tapisseries. Note 5 Cette tenture se composerait d'après une source (SDU-DEN HAAG SDU édition La Haye informations juridiques et gouvernementales pour professionnels) de douze tapisseries et auraient été livrées en 1591, donc les cartons dateraient de la période ou il travailla à Anvers avant son départ pour Delft. Bibliographie succincte. Les belles heures de la tapisserie Dario BOCCARA Tapisseries Flamandes R-A D'HULST Metamorphoses de la Tapisserie Julien COFFONET « Encyclopedia of world art » 1967 volume 13 page 930. European Tapestries in the Rijksmuseum SDU-DEN HAAG SDU édition La Haye informations juridiques et gouvernementales pour professionnels U heeft met een klik op een link gezocht op Kunstenaar: Spierinx, François in de database Volledige Catalogus (1 hits) Een onbekend Scipio-gobelin van François Spierinx W. van Elden

  • FRAFrance
  • 2006-12-13
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Blue Sauna

Painted in 2006, Blue Sauna is a strikingly distinguished example from Varejãos most acclaimed series, Saunas and Baths. The series was inspired by a chance encounter with a photograph of a tiled interior in Macau that Varejão came across while flicking through a bookshop in Portugal. It was not just the formal qualities of the tiles that caught Varejãos attention, but their significance in a global discourse on colonialism that stretches from Brazil to Portugal, and until then unbeknown to Varejão, China. For it was China and their trade with the Portuguese that inspired the famous azulejos tiles that have become Varejãos most iconic artistic motif. It was these Macau tiles, in their banality and aesthetic formalism as opposed to the ornate decoration of the azulejos, which provided a counterpoint to her previous artistic excursions into a specifically Brazilian colonial history. Staring at the old photograph in the bookshop, Varejão realised she could widen the scope of her enquiry, though still rooted in her Brazilian experience, to explore similar cultural environments across the world. In response, the series has been culturally omnivorous, jumping across continents and cultures, from Brazilian abattoirs to segregated female-only hammams in Paris to public baths in Budapest. Speaking on occasion of her acclaimed solo show at the Fondation Cartier in 2005, Varejão said my painting in the Sauna series departs from the conceptual field of references to historical iconography and enters the field of the sensorial They work on questions intrinsic to painting, such as colour, composition and perspective (Adriana Varejão cited in: Hélène Kelmachter, Echo Chamber, in: Exh. Cat., Paris, Fondation Cartier pour lart contemporain (and travelling), Adriana Varejão: Chambre d échos, 2005, p. 89). By moving away from the explicitly coded colonial critiques of her earlier tiled works, in which tiles are literally slashed open to reveal the guts and gore of Brazils colonial past, Varejão allows her work to embrace more formal considerations while also evoking the violence of the Baroque period in a more subtle way. In creating a work with strong formal values, Varejão has dragged the domineering legacy of Latin American abstraction, the Concrete and Neo-Concrete movements, into the real world. She has plastered its legacy onto the walls of her saunas. The series is Varejãos own figurative rebellion, aided by some well-known artistic conspirators. These works are essays in minimalism, explorations of colour that evoke the still life subtly of Morandi; the blues of Klein; Richters colour charts and the static electricity of Hockneys pools. Yet for all its referential depth, Blue Sauna is both nowhere and everywhere. A timeless space devoid of history and place, they are projected, virtual realties inspired by photographs yet drawn from Varejãos imagination. It is here that Brazils colonial past, so overt in her earlier work, takes on a more subtle guise. Through the maze-like composition of openings leading to dead ends, a disquieting foreboding envelopes the viewer. In the knowledge of her gruesome earlier work, the formal minimalism in Saunas and Baths takes on an almost surgical cleanliness. In these all too serene spaces, its the absence of narrative that makes these works foreboding. As one enters the space inside the canvas, the viewer is subjected to a multisensory experience made rich with contrasts. One is struck by the coolness of the blue and yet reminded of a saunas overbearing heat. A pictorial homage to John Cages 4 33, the silence is deafening. This continual push and pull, from quiet to loud, hot to cold, only enhances the viewers unease. Saunas, in Varejãos opinion, are perfectly democratic spaces. Naked, they strip us of our clothing and jewellery and by doing so rob us of our class, status and identity. They expose us. It is this reckoning with ourselves that makes the Saunas and Baths series so powerful. As the art critic Phillippe Sollers writes, here in the sauna all illusions vanish, everything evaporates (Phillippe Sollers, Vertigo by Adriana Varejão, in: ibid, p. 13). While these interiors strip us down to our basic humanity, Varejão wryly picks up on the sauna as a motif for the Brazilian appropriation of European culture in the Baroque period. Founded in Scandinavia, saunas were a specifically European phenomenon that evolved from the great hot bath tradition that stretches from the bathhouses of Vienna back to Rome and Athens. It is with this history that Varejãos weaves her colonial framework into the grids of the saunas tiles. For all their quiet formalism, it is Varejãos fascination with anthropophagy the capacity to incorporate foreign ideas and transform them into your own that roars. As Paulo Herkenhoff writes Adriana Varejão understands that the purpose of artistic practice is not to tell histories, but to create mechanisms that enable history to be told (Paulo Herkenhoff, Saunas, in: ibid, p. 24).

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2017-09-13
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A mughal silk rug, the deccan, probably hyderabad, india

Re-joined along central axis Indian court carpet production is believed to date from the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605). Until around 1630 designs were based upon contemporaneous Persian models which were interpreted in an inimitably Indian style. Even with the emergence of an Indian aesthetic, certain Persian design elements, themes and compositional preferences were retained by local carpet weavers. Such analogies include the use of vivid color palettes and the abundant use of interlacing vines, large palmettes and delicate flower heads. From the mid-seventeenth century, as a result of Shah Jahan's (r. 1628-1666) enthusiasm for herbaria, Indian carpets became increasingly more floral in design, exhibiting more botanical realism. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York possesses a carpet where Persian-inspired stylized palmettes and leaves are mixed with realistically drawn flowers, illustrating this new trend in Indian art, see M. S. Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Carpets in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, p. 122. By the mid-1700s, as the Mughal Court transferred its economic and political focus from Persia to its new trading allies, the Western European powers such as Holland and England, it replaced the Safavid design ethos with a more European aesthetic that resulted in generally more regulated, less organic compositions and stylized design elements. For a mid-eighteenth century carpet from the Deccan decorated with such stylized motifs arranged in a controlled geometric order, see Daniel Walker, Flowers Underfoot, New York, 1997, p. 140. Depicting flowers in an overall lattice pattern was not reserved for carpets and textiles, and this design can be seen in numerous different media from architecture to manuscript illuminations. In India, similarly to virtually any other carpet weaving center in the world at the time, silk was among the most precious of materials and only a limited number of silk carpets and rugs were woven, so that fewer survive to this day. The present rug belongs to a small group of eight “flower-in-lattice” pattern rugs, all of which have slightly angular flowering vines in their borders, rhythmically repeating flower heads in the guard borders and delicately drawn overall lattices enclosing sprays of flowers shown facing forward and in three-quarter views, some depicted naturalistically, others more stylized. In addition to the present lot, the pieces belonging to this group are; one in the Musée des Tissus, Lyon; a fragment in the Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait; another fragment, presumably from the same carpet, in the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar; a carpet sold from the Kevorkian Collection, Anderson Galleries, New York, March 11-13, 1922, lot 605; one sold from the Benguiat Collection, Anderson Galleries, New York, April 23, 1932, lot 26; another sold from the Untermyer Collection, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, May 10-11, 1940, lot 207; one sold from the Quill Jones Collection, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, March 21, 1952, lot 108; and one formerly in the Cliff Collection, Detroit Institute of Art. Rugs and carpets in this group are among the last products of the golden age of carpet weaving in India as they were made just before the design of floral carpets became overly angular and somewhat stiff following the abovementioned European aesthetic. In the present rug, the lines of the trellis are still delicately curved, the blossoms well articulated, and vibrant jewel-like hues employed.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-06-05
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An isphahan carpet, central persia

End borders re-attached At the 1903 auction of the Estate of Henry Marquand, the top lot was a Persian carpet and half of the top ten lots were carpets.  Benguiat purchased the top lot, as well as seven other carpets including this one.  As a sign of the esteem in which carpets and furnishings were held at the time, the sales totals for decorative arts were over double those for paintings.  In its article covering the Marquand sale, the New York Times speculated that Vitall Benguiat was purchasing solely on behalf of Senator Clark.  Benguiat denied this, and while he did sell some pieces to Clark, he held on to the most expensive carpet from that day.  Eventually he sold that carpet at auction in 1932 where it went to French & Co., who in turn sold it to John D. McIlhenny, and it was left with his collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  The placement of the palmettes, leaves and cloudbands in this carpet, as well as the more unusual pomegranate motifs are shared with a fragmentary Isphahan carpet formerly in the collection of Alisa Mellon Bruce, sold Christie's London, April 25, 2012, lot 114. Please note that a license may be required to export textiles, rugs and carpets of Iranian origin from the United States. Clients should enquire with the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regarding export requirements. Please check with the Carpet department if you are uncertain as to whether a lot is subject to this restriction or if you need assistance.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-06-05
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A louis xiv savonnerie carpet

Comprised of two symmetrically joined horizontal sections, each with the main field depicting a large frame pattern lobed reserve enclosing monochrome blue and white allegorical bas-reliefs, one depicting Aeolus (honoured by Zeus to become Keeper of the Winds), the other Juno (Goddess and protector of women; and in allegories of the four elements is the personification of Air) with her attribute the peacock (associated with Pride), each bas-relief with a floral swag sweeping from the centre of the inside of the frame and held in the corners of the main field by peacocks perched on exuberant and colourful scrolling rinceaux, the reserves supported by adorsed eagles centred by the motif of the winged helmet of Mercury (Messenger of the gods: Jupiter), the eagles (sacred to Jupiter; also attributed to Pride) flanked on each side by further scrolling rinceaux incorporating a brightly feathered parrot, the wide border of frame pattern design with repeat pattern of yellow oval blind cabochon alternating with two white interlocking foliate motifs against a black ground, with a yellow fleur-de-lys in each corner, with a yellow, cream, salmon and black narrow outer guard stripe with guilloche pattern and a narrow yellow and black inner guard stripe with palmette pattern: When Louis XIV (1638-1715) ascended to the throne in 1661, it was decided with his chief minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, that a refurbishment of the Louvre was necessary to make a statement to the world manifesting the power of the King and the State. This was an appealing plan to Colbert as it would promote the arts, and build up the French carpet industry. The manufacture of carpets was instigated by Henri IV and revived to unparalleled heights by Louis XIV. The carpet maker Pierre Dupont (ca.1577-1640) introduced the technique of making knotted pile carpets ‘in the manner of Turkey and the Levant’, into France under Louis XIII, producing especially floral and rinceaux designed carpets. Then Dupont’s apprentice Simon Lourdet (ca 1595-c.1667) established the workshop in the former soap factory (savonnerie) in Chaillot, from which Louis XIV commissioned various carpets for different palaces. In 1664-1666, there was a special commission for thirteen carpets for the Galerie d’Apollon - Gallery of Apollo - (see lot 11 in this sale), which served as an initial trial for the particularly grand and challenging suite of ninety three carpets to follow for the Galerie du Bord de l’Eau (known as the Grande Galerie), Palais du Louvre, predominantly between 1670 and 1685.In both execution and design, this series of Grande Galerie carpets should be seen as one of the most ambitious and important projects of Louis XIV’s patronage of the decorative arts. Louis XIV ultimately never completed the overall interior scheme, as he moved the court to Versailles in 1682, however the weaving of this large number of carpets was completed. The creator of the scheme is not mentioned specifically in the records of Comptes des Bâtiment du Roi, however as premiere peintre de Roi (and director of the Savonnerie manufactory from 1665), Charles Le Brun would have been involved, as would Louis Le Vau, as premier peintre du Roi. Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) became Surintendant des Bâtiment du Roi in 1664 and he called on the talents of the Petit Conseil group of artists and architects, including Le Vau and Le Brun. There are records of payments to three of painters of the carpet cartoons, which included François I Francart (1622-1672), Beaudrin Yvart le père (1611-1690) and Jean Le Moyne Lemoine dit le Lorraine 1638-1713), for smaller sized works related to the project. Noted scholars, including Charissa Bremer-David, have considered that other artists would have been involved. Verlet comprehensively recorded the history of the Savonnerie Manufactory, including the Grande Galerie carpets which included a listing, brief description and layout plan for each carpet, as well as the known history of ownership for each piece (Pierre Verlet, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: the Savonnerie, 1982). This seminal study has been complemented by Buchard with further examples discovered since 1982 (Wolf Buchard, “Savonnerie Reviewed: Charles Le Brun and the ‘Grand Tapis de pied d’ouvrage a la Turque’, woven for the Grande Galerie at the Louvre”, Furniture History, Vol.XLVIII (2012). The scheme overall was a visualisation of the Sun King’s political agenda and personal aspirations, through the designs of the carpets and with their amalgamation of diverse themes, which emphasised the grandeur of the Sovereign. The Louvre carpets were profusely decorated with a combination of royal symbols, including the arms of France and Navarre, interlaced ‘L’s, fleur-de-lis, suns, crowns, globes, wreaths and trophies together with natural elements, landscapes, literary and allegorical symbols and figures; alluding to the whole earth coming to life in honour of the King. Despite their variety each carpet forms a part of a coherent overall concept; each piece having bold classical architectural framing, a large central section, often with allegorical symbolism, such as Air, Water, Earth, Fire, balanced by a bas-relief at each end, alternating with either landscapes or distinctly and effectively rendered monochrome allegorical figures in the bas-reliefs, with a field of exuberant acanthus leaves and the rinceaux against a dark brown/black ground (fond-brun – which in the 17th century was a rich black or deep blue colour), and with a unifying complementary border design. The alternating bas-reliefs represented twenty-seven aspects of Louis XIV’s gloire, each identified in the Inventaire de Mobilier de la Couronne. The iconography was influenced by Cesare Ripa’s, Iconologia, Perugia, 1593 (and widely disseminated and translated). In addition to the rich allusions and iconography, a programme of colour theory and symbolism was a further enhancement to the effect, with contributions from the Petit Académie, which were used in the royal festivals of the 1660’s. Yellow alluded to gold and the colour of the sun, and grey/white alluding to silver, associated with the moon and symbolic of royal dignity. The whole is an extraordinary paean in honour of Louis XIV, a sort of symphony with a flourish of trumpets and clashing of cymbals, which acts as an accompaniment to the cipher and the arms of the King. A series of heroic couplets is unfolded on those carpets in the second part of the gallery that are decorated with bas-reliefs. The Elements, the Virtues, Good Government are lauded. As far as one can judge from the apparent order of the carpets, the scheme did not include a carefully planned development, but they spread the glory of the King, as it were, at our feet. (Verlet, p.197). Apart from the central Galerie d’Apollon carpet, most were woven as pairs, and would have been conceived to complement each other and in some of their design elements allude to symmetry between the two halves of the gallery. They correspond to the elaborate designs for the ceiling and the layout of the gallery with the window alcoves alternating with trumeaux or blind bays. The length of the carpets was fixed by the width of the gallery, which was 7¾ aunes (922cm) in the Galerie d’Apollon and 7½ aunes (892cm) in the Grande Galerie. The widths of the carpets did vary dependent on the architectural design. The gallery ran from the Salon Carré next to the Galerie d’Apollon, along to the Pavillon de Flore adjoining the Palais Tuileries. The total length of the gallery (based on the widths of the carpets) would have been around 226/227 toises, approximately 442m, with one side overlooking the river. This was a testament to the extraordinary skill of the weavers involved. Colbert arranged in 1665 for the construction of particularly wide looms, with the greater dimensions of the carpets dictating the width of the loom, which was contrary to past manufacturing processes. The wide loom resulted in short warping, and allowed for more weavers working together along the longest dimension of the carpet, which considerably reduced the time taken to produce the enormous carpets individually, let alone as a group. The Lourdet family produced sixty carpets of the completed series (delivered between 1670-1685), and the Dupont family (who moved from the Louvre to the Chaillot Savonnerie in 1671) delivered thirty-two, between 1673-1683. The numbering of the carpets in the Royal Inventory for the carpets in this scheme run from Nos.142 – 234. In Verlet the carpets are 1-93 (and numbered as such in his schematic layout of the Long Gallery, Fig. 1, based on those in the Archives Nationales). The Grande Galerie was divided into two unequal parts by a pavilion crowned with a lantern, and the first section was to contain carpets 1–35 (Royal Inventory - Nos.142-176 - 177 never woven), the second section carpets 37-93 (Nos. 178-234). The carpets for the Galerie d’Apollon were entered in the Royal Inventory as carpets 67–79 (Nos. 208-220). The present carpet is part of one of the ninety-three carpets for the Grande Galerie du Palais du Louvre. The carpet offered here originally formed the two end sections for the 50th carpet in the series (No. 191), width 3¾ aunes (446cm) and is recorded as having been delivered by Dupont to the Louvre on 10 June 1678. From production and delivery records kept by Dupont, it is noted that he was responsible for thirty-two of the carpets and that the current example is the twelfth carpet he produced for the Grande Galerie commission. Dupont’s production and delivery notes also make particular mention of the four peacocks seen in the corners of this piece (Verlet, op. cit. p.179, notes 25-41, p.486). The original central section of the carpet is in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris (Cat.No.176: approximately 515 by 434cm), with the theme of an Allegory of Air. The design format is of a polyangular outer panel on a white ground with the Arms of France in four cartouches linked by floral swags, with a distinctive central medallion enclosing the four-winds blowing horns and oboes linked by elaborate ribbon ties, with a butterfly motif surround, the four corners with elements of the distinctive rinceaux against the black ground, now interrupted by the border, with the yellow (golden) cabochon design incorporating the corner fleur-dy-lys motifs, of the design used for the series (Fig. 2). The carpet would have been longer, with the present two halves of the carpet at each end. This central section of carpet 50 (No.191) from the series, was one of the most important works acquired by the banker Moïse de Camondo, in the late 19th century, to decorate the mansion he had built in 1911 for his collection of 18th century furniture and art objects, which included Savonnerie carpets woven for the Grande Galerie. The house and collection was bequeathed to Les Arts Décoratifs and opened as the Musée de Camondo in 1935 (Fig. 3). Moïse de Camondo had previously been the tenant of the l‘hotel Heimendahl, rue de Constantine, which in turn had been the apartment of M. et Madame Heimandahl, which they rented from the Princesse de Sagan; "Etat descriptif des objets mobiliers appartenant à M. et Mme Heimendahl et garnissant l'hôtel que leur a loué Mme la princesse de Sagan rue de Constantine, n°21" (10 Octobre 1891). The complete carpet was described on its arrival in 1678 in the Grand-Meuble as: Le cinquantiesme: un tapis fonds brun, representant l’air, sur lequel il y a un grand compartiment fonds blanc remply des armes de France dans quatre cartouches couronnez et soutenues des aisles de la Renommee, et accompagnees de festoons de fleurs et dans le milieu d’un rond fonds bleu entoure de papillons dans lequel sont representez les Quatre Vents, aux deux bouts deux bas-reliefs bleus representant Eole et Junon, long de 7 aunes ½ sure 3 aunes ¾ de large. When an inventory was drawn up in 1789 those from the Long Gallery had been preserved and their condition noted. Even with changing political events Louis XV, Louis XVI and Napoleon carefully administered the loans and movement of the carpets they had inherited and appreciated. Then during the Revolution and the Directoire some pieces were dispersed to government officials or used to pay governmental debts. The current piece was acquired from the Directoire by Raymond Bourdillon on 26 July 1797. Bourdillon received forty-four Savonnerie carpets, including twenty-seven others from the Grande Galerie series, as payment for horse fodder he supplied the revolutionary army. When Bourdillon received the carpets, the condition for the original complete carpet was noted as follows:Tapis frais comme neuf, avec medaillon en bas-relief aux deux bouts et un grand milieu, fond blanc et bleu, orne de trophees de musique et de 4 grands ecussons couronnes, 1600F (AN 02 / 464). Many of the Grande Galerie carpets were altered, reduced in size or fell into general disrepair through neglect. Some were mutilated due to the inclusion in some of overtly royal motifs. Verlet, (ibid. p.208) specifically mentions how lost carpet fragments have been found, and married up, and he recalls seeing the present carpet of the two joined sections, in the house of a famous collector, and being able to confirm that they were the bas-reliefs to the central section of the Nissim Camondo carpet. Despite the dispersal of many of the Grande Galerie carpets after the revolution, the Mobilier National retains the largest collection of them (around forty). There are other complete examples, central sections, bas-reliefs and fragments in International museums and private collections. It is unlikely that the carpets were ever laid out in entirety during the reign of Louis XIV, and it is of great significance that the intended effect was created when twenty-four of the carpets from the Mobilier National were stitched together on the occasion of the Signing of the Treaty of Versailles on the 18th June 1919, in the Galerie des Glaces. [It is] “….. impossible to exaggerate the importance of the weaving of the carpets for the Long Gallery – one of the most persistently pursued projects of the reign – in the history of the decorative arts of the seventeenth century. The whole future of the Savonnerie factory, its very existence and its characteristic style were based on them” (Verlet, p.211).

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2016-07-06
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The `yerkes-remarque' mughal hunting carpet, india

During his lifetime, Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon (1875-1947) amassed hundreds of artworks into one of the finest collections of the 20th century. His dedication to classical carpets ensured that hugely iconic weavings entered the family's collection, including the famous Béhague-Sanguszko carpet. Europe's illustrious rug collectors, such as Wilhelm von Bode and Kurt Erdmann, sold their best pieces to the Baron, who quickly obtained some of the most important classical carpet weavings known and attainable at the time. When Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza died, the large collection was divided up among his heirs. Eventually, the new head of the family, Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1921-2002), bought back works from other heirs and recreated the collection. In his role as head of the family Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza not only inherited a vast business empire in naval construction and oil but also a love and appreciation of oriental carpets. Continuing in his father’s footsteps Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, together with his wife Baroness Carmen, enriched the family collection with exquisite rugs, carpets and textiles, including classical Chinese carpets from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Highly prized by both Baron Heinrich and his son, Hans Heinrich, these carpets, rather than being shown in the public gallery in the Villa Favorita in Lugano, were enjoyed in their private homes. By the late 20th century the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection had become one of the world's most important depositories of classical carpets. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection of carpets was first published in 1972 by May Beattie, and updated in 1998 by Friedrich Spuhler, op cit. The lot offered here appears as Plate 46 in this cited publication. Before it entered the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, the `Yerkes-Remarque' Mughal hunting carpet was owned by several highly prominent collectors of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The first of these was Charles T. Yerkes (1837 - 1905); a so-called 'robber baron'. A somewhat infamous businessman, famed for his bribery and philandering, Charles T. Yerkes began collecting carpets not out of a passion for the subject but in order to ‘create a collection without parallel, one that anyone would have to envy.’ (Thomas J. Farnham, The Yerkes Collection, Hali, issue 101, November 1998, p.77) Fuelled by his competitive streak he spent a fortune on acquiring remarkable carpets and, with the aid of several dealers, worked hard to establish an astonishing collection. Yerkes’s efforts paid off and Michael Franses even suggests that he was ‘possibly the first important collector of historical oriental carpets after Cardinal Wolsey, King Henry VIII and the Habsburgs’. (Franses quoted in Farnham, ibid, p.75). The sale of the Yerkes Collection, upon his death, bought huge publicity and, due to the scandal attached to his name, stirred unprecedented curiosity. It is Yerkes who is credited for whetting the appetite of American collectors and elevating, through the finesse of his carpets, their taste. Following the famous 1910 sale the Mughal hunting carpet entered the collection of Erich Maria Remarque (author of All Quiet on the Western Front) in Ascona, where it remained for several decades. In 1986, having passed to The Textile Gallery, it then entered the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. The prominence and reputation of its previous owners has ensured the carpet is now counted amongst carpet royalty, with Friedrich Spuhler supposing that it may have been part of the extensive carpet collection of the Maharaja of Jaipur, although there is no documentary evidence to support this. However, as noted below, the accomplished design would indicate a court workshop, the inspiration probably provided by the highly elaborate court carpets of 16th and 17th century Safavid Iran, such as the mid-16th century  'Emperor's Carpet', now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  illustrated in Valérie Bérinstain, Susan Day, Elisabeth Floret, Clothilde Galea-Blanc, Odile Gellé, Martin Mathias, Asiyeh Ziai, (ed.), Great Carpets of the World, The Vendome Press, Paris 1996, Plate 115, which includes an elaborate system of flowering vines, cloudbands and palmettes amongst which scenes of the chase and mythical animals are seen. The design of the 'Yerkes-Remarque' Mughal hunting carpet is simple but beautifully executed. The field itself is divided into four, almost identical, blocks of design. The main field, dominated by the wine red ground, is then enclosed by an ivory inner border, which picks up and accents the white of the animals. Defined by the intensity of its dark blue ground the main border serves to echo the deep blue of the central palmettes. As if to complete and unify the overall design the outer border is composed of a thin strip of wine red. Within the main field we find varied palmette and rosette blossoms linked through elongated lancet leaves together with the distinct Mughal Indian leaf forms, made up of a cornucopia of blossoms. Scattered amongst these large ornate flowers, filled with deep blues and framed by flame outlines, are detailed animal combat scenes. In one instance a powerful tiger, poised mid-air, is ready to pounce upon an unsuspecting white zebu bull. In a scene just above, a pink spotted leopard bites hungrily into the rewards of his chase, an exhausted blue deer. The main border is particularly intricate and has been executed with exceptional care. Yellow vines, covered with forked leaves, unfurl in an S shape creating a distinctive and fluid pattern. In the gaps between the scrolling vines we flip alternately from highly ornate and boldly coloured palmettes to lions feasting upon fawns. In this case the lions are detailed with light blue ‘flames’ and clawing outstretched paws. The undulating vines loop beautifully at the corners, propelling and maintaining this sense of fluidity and movement. Spuhler notes that ‘such accomplished corner solutions tend to indicate court design workshops’. (Friedrich Spuhler, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Carpets and Textiles, trans. Maria Schlatter, Philip Wilson, London, 1998. p.181, Plate 46). The long, narrow format of this carpet is typical of Mughal and Safavid Persian court carpets of the period; in the west, contemporary collectors of these precious carpets often displayed them on refectory tables. An example is the 'Fremlin' carpet, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was made for William Fremlin, a servant of the East India Company between 1626 and 1644, probably as a table carpet; it was most likely made for him in Lahore after 1637, when he became President of the Council of Surat. The family coat-of-arms appears in both the main field and the border.  (Illustrated in Sarah B. Sherrill, Carpets and Rugs of Europe and America, Abbeville Press, New York, 1996, Plate 159). As in the lot offered here, it displays scenes of the chase on a wine red ground, although the motifs are sparser and it does not have the dynamic energy of the present lot; it does however, allow us to securely date this example to no later than the first half of the 17th century.

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2013-07-03
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Tapis, Tapisseries & Textiles

Vous trouverez des tapis orientaux et du monde entier dans cette catégorie. Des tapisseries, du papier tissé, des tapis contemporains, du linge et des tapis traditionnels, des textiles, des serviettes, des coussins et des rideaux sont aussi mis en enchère ici.