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These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTOR


Unevenly corroded red ground with associated repiling and restoration, repaired cut, restored crease line, selvages frayed and partially rebound, minor loss at either end but secured
31ft.8in. x 11ft.7in. (966cm. x 354cm.)
Villa delle Rose, Florence, 1960's (Ernest and Jean Boissevain)
The Crespi - Hicks Estate, Dallas
A private collector, America
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Lot Essay

The present lot belongs to the 'golden age' of Persian carpet weaving that occurred in the Safavid era. Under the reign of Shah 'Abbas (1587-1629), the Persian capital was moved to the city of Isfahan in central Persia, where he established court workshops to produce exceptional carpets for export, diplomatic gifts and the Persian nobility. These carpets were among the finest ever created in wool and silk and they were objects of great prestige and status. The red ground palmette vine gallery carpets are perhaps the most recognisable of these court designs and remain some of the most highly sought-after of all classical carpets.

Jessica Hallet's article gives us a clearer understanding of the development of Isfahan carpet design over the 17th century and bases her conclusions principally on Portuguese inventory records, which are supported by paintings, (Jessica Hallett, 'From the Looms of Yazd and Isfahan', in Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World, 1400-1700, Oxford and Genoa, 2010, pp.90-123). She suggests that the inclusion on the present lot of large scrolling saz leaves within the palmette vine design, is generally considered to be a later feature introduced in the second half of the 17th century. Indeed the spiralling vine has almost completely disappeared in the present carpet and is replaced with a more ordered arrangement. It is interesting to compare this lot with contemporaneous Kirman 'Vase' carpets of the second half of the 17th century where, similarly, the arrangement of the saz leaves, unlike the earlier 16th century examples, dominates the design as seen in the Rothschild 'Vase' carpet fragment sold in these Rooms, 16 April 2016, lot 101, or the Comtesse de Behague Kirman 'Vase' carpet sold in these Rooms, 15 April 2010, lot 100.

The symmetrical bands of leaves, palmettes and cloud bands create an interesting rhythm across the field which is complimented by the striking cypress tree and palmette border with its cleverly resolved corners. Another carpet of similarly large proportions was formerly in the Capela de Santa Luzia, Lisbon and is now in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antigua, (Jessica Hallett and Teresa Pacheco Pereira, The Oriental Carpet in Portugal, Lisbon, 2007, p.106, pl.39). The field design of over-size quatrefoil arabesques differs in its arrangement to the present lot but both carpets display a similar border design of alternating cypress trees, palmettes and floral sprays. Where on the Lisbon carpet the border palmettes seem to have degenerated into squat pomegranate-like palmettes, ours are much clearer drawn and show the early stages of the later widely used turtle-palmettes that dominate north west Persian weavings of the 19th century. Like the Lisbon carpet which was woven as one of a pair, a related Isfahan carpet sold at Sotheby's, 7 November, 2017, lot 16. Originally sold with its pair from the private collection of the V. and L. Benguiat by the American Art Association in New York 4-5 December 1925, both carpets were reputedly once in the possession of the Duke of Braganza when he became King of Portugal in 1640. (see May H. Beattie, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection of Oriental Rugs, pp.47-51, pl.V.)

The rich array of colours within the palette of our carpet retain much of their original depth and are used in numerous combinations. Unusually a number of the larger cusped palmettes and smaller flowerheads have a more exotic spotted decoration which is less common. This imposing carpet, reaching nearly ten meters in length has been housed in a number of prestigious private residences both in Europe and America. Its beautiful design covers a substantial area, creating a dramatic visual effect of seemingly endless decoration which works successfully in contemporary and traditional interiors alike.

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