Details
AN IMPORTANT SAFAVID SILK AND METAL-THREAD 'POLONAISE' CARPET
ISFAHAN, CENTRAL PERSIA, FIRST QUARTER 17TH CENTURY
Remarkably good silk pile throughout, corroded silver metal -thread, a small spot repair in the centre, original fringes at one end, overall very good condition
6ft.7in. x 4ft.6in. (205cm. x 141cm.)
Provenance
With the Saxon Elector and later King of Poland Augustus the Strong
Reputedly gifted in 1695 to Lothar Franz von Schonborn, Prince-Elector and Archbishop of Mainz, Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Collection of the princely Counts of Schönborn-Wiesentheid in Schloss Weißenstein, Pommersfelden, Bavaria
On loan to the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto, Canada, from the 1970's
Private Swiss Collection
Literature
Wilhelm Schonath (Hg.), 250 Jahre Schloß Pommersfelden (1718 - 1968). Mit einem Lebensbild des Kurfürsten Lothar Franz von Schönborn von Max H. von Freeden, Würzburg 1968 (AK Schloß Pommersfelden, 14.6.-15.9.1968).
Alois Riegl, 'Beschreibung der abgebildeten Teppiche», in: Orientalische Teppiche. Mit Unterstützung des k.k. Handelsministeriums und des k.k. Ministeriums für Cultus und Unterricht [bearbeitet von Alois Riegl], K.K. Handels-Museum (Hg.), Wien-London-Paris 1892 [1894], Plate XXIII and Plate XXXV, pp. 1-22
Friedrich Spuhler, Seidene Repräsentationsteppiche der mittleren bis späten Safawidenzeit. Die sog. Polenteppiche, Berlin 1968 (Diss.: Freie Universität).
Exhibited
K.K. O¨sterr, O¨sterreichisches Handelsmuseum, Katalog der Ausstellung orientalischer Teppiche . Handels-Museum, 1891
Special notice

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Louise Broadhurst
Louise Broadhurst

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Lot Essay

The knot count is approximately 7H x 6V per cm. sq.

Together with a subtle palette of powder blue, indigo, sage-green, peach and pale yellow the present carpet is woven with a heavily brocaded gold and silver field and a silver brocaded border. The hallmark shimmering silver and gold tones of ‘Polonaise’ carpets were achieved by wrapping extremely fine silver-gilt and silver thread diagonally around silk threads. Naturally this effect has deteriorated with time due to wear and the oxidization of the metal threads which renders them dark, however it is still partially visible in some surviving rugs, such as the one offered here. Where the metal-thread has rubbed it has simultaneously revealed the technique used by the weavers whereby the silver metal-thread is wrapped around a white silk core, while the gilt-silver metal-thread is wrapped around a gold silk core. This was possibly intended to help heighten the tone of the metal where the silk perhaps showed through and helped the colours blend harmoniously into solid shades of gold and silver in the eyes of the onlooker.

The design of the present carpet combines a floral decoration with elegant arabesques that overlays a secondary plane of scrolling stems terminating in lanceolate leaves. A carpet with a similar central quatrefoil medallion enclosed within an intricate lattice of scrolling tendrils is in the collection of His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury at Boughton, no.9 (Donald King, The Eastern Carpet in the Western World, London, 1983, fig.70, p.94). The border pattern of arabesques and palmettes on the Boughton carpet is calm and statuesque however the marginally wider border of the present carpet with its narrower guard stripes, allows the inverted pairs of split-palmettes that flank the alternating indigo and pale peach palmettes an even greater sense of balance and proportion. An almost identical border, but with a more vibrant red and orange palette, can be seen on a Safavid chenille carpet in the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, (F.R.Martin, A History of Oriental Carpets before 1800, Stockholm, 1908, pl.13). Remarkably the original long green silk fringes remain complete at one end of the rug and both ends are finished with an original silk and metal-thread braided kilim.
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