The carpet has five flower medallions on a camel, floral scroll ground with peonies within a dragon-scroll border and an outer oxidized brown border.
Approximately 8 ft. 11 in. x 5 ft. 8 in. (272 cm. x 173 cm.)
Victor Goloubew, Paris, 1911.
The Textile Gallery, London, 1975.
Elio Cittone, Milan, 1982.
The Textile Gallery, London, 1989.
Property from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection; Christie's London, 21 April 2015, lot 68.
The Marie Theresa L. Virata (1923-2015) Collection.
Henri d'Ardenne de Tizac, 'Tapis Chinois', Art et Decoration, Vol. III, Paris, 1911, p. 376, fig. 3.
Friedrich Sphuler, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, p. 220-1, pl. 59.
Hans König and Michael Franses, Glanz der Himmelssöhne Kaiserliche Teppiche Aus China, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Köln, London, 2005, pl. 25.
Hali, Vol. 5, No. 2, 'Galley', fig. 2, p. 218.
Musée Cernuschi, Paris, 1911.
Maastricht, The European Art Fair, 1988.

Lot Essay

The reign of the Kangxi Emperor was a period of great achievement for all the arts, and carpets woven during this period are celebrated for their harmony and proportion both in coloration and size. Woven for both the Imperial court and nobility, Qing dynasty rugs and carpets were often made for a specific place or function. Based on its proportions, the present lot was probably made as a daybed cover that would have been typically reserved for an important guest.

The elegance of this carpet lies in the balanced symmetry of the five equal-sized medallions in the field. This format is atypical; the more usual format from this period is a large central round medallion flanked by four similar, but smaller, medallions with embellishments or spandrels in each corner (see M. S. Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, p. 316, fig. 284, cat. 206). Here, each six-lobed medallion formed by a stylized 'T' or cloud-band motif encircles a flowering lotus blossom all on a field of flowering peonies and long leaves. The main border contains a repeat of archaic opposing dragons flanking a shou (longevity) symbol recalling early Chinese bronzes where they are also known as 'leaf dragons' for the similarity to vines and leaves (Friedrich Spuhler, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, p. 220).

A carpet of similar size and color and with a nearly identical field pattern of peonies is in the Ballard Collection at the St. Louis Museum of Art (Maurice Dimand, The Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs, St. Louis, 1935, plate 68 and Walter Denny, The Carpet and the Connoisseur, St. Louis, 2016, p. 230). The Ballard carpet also has five equal-sized medallions, however, the central medallion has a different central motif than the four medallions in the corners. A similar example with a comparable peony-filled ground and five equal-sized medallion format was offered at Christie's London 8 October 2013, lot 55. The writhing dragons within the medallions of the Ballard carpet are very similar to the dragons in the border of the present lot. The Pratt daybed cover in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Dimand and Mailey, ibid. p. 325, fig. 301) also shares many features with the Goloubew carpet including similar drawing of dragons, particularly the dragons in the corner spandrels, as well as the peony and leafy trellis ground cover. Michael Franses suggests that their similarities are so striking that they may have even been woven in the same workshop.

Victor Goloubew (1878-1945) was among the cultural elite who purchased carpets at the turn of the century. A noted Orientalist and professor who specialized in archaeological excavations in Southeast Asia, Goloubew collected not only Chinese works of art but also objects from Tibet, Cambodia, and Laos.

Interestingly, Michael Franses notes that between 1909 and 1920 about 1650 'antique' Chinese rugs were offered for sale in various auctions in New York and most were in near perfect condition (Lion-dogs Hundred Antiques Classical Chinese Carpets I, London, 2000, p. 14). Today, most carpets attributed to the Kangxi period are in distressed or fragmentary condition so to find a complete example in useable condition is a rare opportunity.


More from The Marie Theresa L. Virata Collection of Asian Art: A Family Legacy

View All
View All