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  • Press release
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  • Paris
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  • For immediate release
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  • 25 October 2021

IMPERIAL ‘DRAGON’ THRONE CARPET

TO BE SOLD BY CHRISTIE’S IN PARIS

An Imperial throne carpet with double dragon and seed pearl motif, Ming Dynasty, 16th Century,
16ft.7in. x 14ft.7in. (507cm. x 451 cm). Estimate: €3,500,000-4,500,000

Paris – A rare survivor from the original carpets woven to adorn the halls of the Imperial Palace within the Forbidden City, will be offered at auction by Christie’s in Paris for €3,500,000-4,500,000. The carpet, woven in the 16th Century during the Ming dynasty, will be on exhibition in London at Christie’s King Street from October 23rd to 7th November. Adorned with two five-clawed dragons and with a seed pearl at its centre, it would have been placed on a raised platform upon which the throne of the Emperor, the ‘Son of Heaven’ would have been positioned, signifying his connection between the earth and the celestial heavens, it is in pristine condition. The carpet, which would have originally been woven in rich Ming Imperial red, now faded to a golden yellow, measures 5 x 4 meters approximately and is one of the highlights of the Exceptional Sale on November 23rd.

There are only 39 complete carpets in existence today out of the hundreds that were originally woven, 16 carry the highly-prized Imperial dragon, nine of which are in the Beijing Palace Museum with just seven remaining in private hands.

Louise Broadhurst, Christie’s Rug and Carpet specialist, said: “Standing before such a carpet one cannot help but be transported back to the impressive palace interiors of the Ming Emperors. For this carpet to have survived in such remarkable condition is in itself a rare feet and we are honored to have the opportunity to offer this eminent work of art for sale.”

The carpet was said to have been bought in 1920 by a couple from Iowa on their honeymoon in China. They brought it back to America, loaned it to the Cleveland Museum of Art and then sold it from their collection in 1987 to a private collector in Switzerland, the current vendor.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.