INDEXMy highlight of 2015 — the list in fullRead more
When selecting a ‘highlight’ from all the carpets sold in 2015, I might have chosen the extremely rare 13th century Mongol kilim, sold earlier this year in April for £602,500. However it is another kilim — one of a small group from exactly the other side of the world — that I wish to celebrate. Woven in Peru in the late 17th/early 18th century, it is not Oriental but, in technique, bears the same tradition of kilims woven in Europe and the Orient.
A Colonial Andean tapestry, Peru, late 17th/early 18th century. Woven in five panels, a small rewoven repair in the field, ends rebound. 6ft.1in. x 5ft.7in. (185cm. x 170cm.). Sold for: £30,000 on 6 October 2015
The carpet was consigned by the late Brian Sewell — the art critic, connoisseur and former Christie’s staff member — who sadly passed away a few weeks before it came to be sold. Sewell had inherited the piece from his mother, who was given the carpet by close Peruvian friends in the 1930s. While probably intended as a table cover originally, the kilim had, for many years, lain draped across the back of the sofa on which Sewell rested his head. As he readily admitted, he had ‘no idea of its importance’.
Following the Spanish Conquest in Peru, European designs became expertly incorporated into the textile and weaving styles of South America. Ripe bunches of grapes, heraldic shields and iconic elements, such as the double-headed eagle of the Habsburg family, as seen here, appeared on all manner of tapestry weavings.
In excellent condition for its age, this piece has lost none of the subtle nuances of colour, which I loved. It was the provenance, however, of this carpet — knowing where it had been used, from where it had travelled and how it had played a simple but useful part within an everyday home — that elevated it to a much more remarkable object.
For more features, interviews and videos, visit Christie’s Daily