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A DOUBLE-NICHE SMALL MEDALLION USHAK RUG
A DOUBLE-NICHE SMALL MEDALLION USHAK RUG
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PROPERTY OF THE LATE PETER LEHMANN-BÄRENKLAU
A DOUBLE-NICHE SMALL MEDALLION USHAK RUG

WEST ANATOLIA, SECOND HALF 16TH CENTURY

Details
A DOUBLE-NICHE SMALL MEDALLION USHAK RUG
WEST ANATOLIA, SECOND HALF 16TH CENTURY
Mostly in good pile, some localised repairs and reweaves, selvages rebound, original kilims at either end
5ft.1in. x 3ft.10in. (155cm. x 117cm.)

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Jason French

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Lot Essay

Unlike the previous lot in the present sale, this double-niche Ushak rug presents a completely different, but more common, colour palette which is particularly rich and deep, aided by the general good condition of the lustrous pile. The earliest example of a double-niche or small medallion Ushak rug appears in Europe in a painting by Girolamo da Santacroce, The Calling of Saint Matthew dating from 1517 (John Mills, 'The Coming of the Carpet to the West', The Eastern Carpet in the Western World, exhibition catalogue, London, 1983, p.16). Shortly after this, a rug of very similar design to the present example is depicted in The Annunciation by Jacob Claes van Utrecht (O.Ydema, Carpets and their datings in Netherlandish Paintings, Zutphen, 1991, p.40). Pictorial evidence however suggests that very similar rugs continued to be made throughout the century and into the next.

One of the niches on the present rug is accentuated by a small ornament which, although quite floral in its form, is most likely intended to be a small lamp, (Sphuler, König, Volkmann, Alte Orientteppiche, Meisterst ücke aus deutschen Privatsammlungen, pl.10, pp.48-49). Amongst the repertoire of differing border designs in the group, the single rosette with linked hooked vine issuing a triple leaf spray as seen here, is less common but is displayed on a number of large medallion Ushak carpets, as seen on a magnificent late 16th century example in the Victoria and Albert Museum where the pattern is displayed on a rich red ground, (Michael Franses & Robert Pinner, ‘The ‘Classical’ Carpets of the 15th to 17th Centuries’, Hali, Vol. 6, No.4). A more common border design of leafy vine on angular connecting vertices (see M.Franses & Pinner, ibid., fig.33, p.374) is that found on the previous lot in the present sale.

Within the known group of small medallion Ushak rugs, Ellis cites nine examples which feature cloudband spandrels as found in the present lot, see Charles Grant Ellis, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, p.80. The examples he cites are: a rug in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, op.cit. pl.27; an example formerly in the collection of Baron H. von Tucher, Munich, published Wilhelm von Bode and Ernst Kühnel, Vorderasiatische Knüpfteppiche aus älterer Zeit, Leipzig, 1992, fig.75; a rug in The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul; the Bernheimer rug, published Otto Bernheimer, Alte Teppiche des 16-18 jhdts. Der Firma L. Bernheimer, Munich, 1959, pl.34 and Rippon Boswell auction catalogue, Wiesbaden, May 11, 1991, lot 114; a fragment in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; an example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, see M.S.Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, fig.169; the Ballard rug now in the St. Louis Art Museum, see M.S.Dimand, The Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs in the City Museum of St.Louis, St.Louis, 1935, pl.XIX; an example in the Textile Museum Washington, D.C., published W.Grote-Hasenbalg, Der Orientteppiche, Berlin, 1992, vol.II, pl.3 and an American private collection, see Daniel S.Walker, Oriental Rugs of the Hajji Babas, New York, 1982, pl.2. In addition to these nine, two other published examples are in Austrian and German private collections, respectively, see Antique Anatolian Carpets from Austrian Collections, Vienna, 1983, pl.6, and Sphuler, König and Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets, Munich, 1978, pl.9. A further example from the estate of Sally Schrader, sold in Sotheby’s New York, 17 September 1992, lot 123, and a further three have sold in these Rooms: 18 October, 2001, lot 219; 4 October 2011, lot 52 and more recently 2 October 2013, lot 176.

Of those fifteen examples, the sinuous drawing of the cloudbands in our lot, which are particularly well drawn, closely resemble that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and German private collection rugs but is more distinctive through its depiction in a rich golden colour. The Bernheimer and Philadelphia rugs are noticeably more angular and stylised in their drawing of the same motif. Erdmann suggests that small medallion Ushaks that contain the cloudband spandrels are found on rugs in the early production of this group in the middle of the 16th century, see Kurt Erdmann, Seven Hundred years of Oriental Carpets, London 1970, p.155. Of the sixteen cited examples of small medallion rugs with cloud band spandrels, including the present lot, ours is unique in its pairing with the palmette vine border.

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