Since its purchase in the 1970’s, the present lot has been housed in the Drawing Room at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire. Building started on the William and Mary style house in 1701, reputably from designs of the architect William Rudhall (1660 – 1733), it was the seat of the Vernon family until 1962 when it was bequeathed to the National Trust.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the majority of the large hand-woven Axminster carpets were designed around prominent central medallions, often influenced by French designs and in particular those of the Royal Savonnerie workshops. Occasionally an overall design was woven and within this group are a small number of carpets which look to the East, rather than the prevalent classical style, for their inspiration. The field and border design of the present lot is clearly reminiscent of the 17th century Safavid Persian carpets with its colourful take on the classic ‘in and out’ palmette arrangement. A slightly less vibrant example from the late 19th century with a similar field sold in these Rooms 24 November 2005, lot 102 and a carpet formerly in The Chanter’s House, Ottery St. Mary, Devon with a Persianate lattice design sold in Sotheby’s Olympia, The Chanter’s House Sale: The Property of Lord Coleridge and a Coleridge family trust, together with the Property of Lord and Lady Norton removed from Fillongley Hall, Warwickshire, 24 October 2006, lot 50. A further example of the group was commissioned by Richard Hall Clarke for the drawing room of Bridwell House, Uffculme, Devon and sold in these Rooms, 11 June 1992, lot 134. Although the border of the Clarke example shows Chinese influences, its field design is possibly closest in terms of its varied palette and freer drawing and, being dated to the turn of the 19th century, gives weight to a similar dating for our carpet. An Axminster carpet from the collection of the Duke of Devonshire with an overall arrangement, but drawing on classical Smyrna designs from Western Anatolia, is published by Sarah B. Sherrill, Carpets and Rugs of Europe and America, New York, 1996, pl.218, p.203.