The present carpet belongs to a unique group of Agra carpets that adhere to the traditions of 17th century Safavid Isfahan and Mughal Indian carpets of the "in-and-out" palmette and swirling floral vine type. Even though these Agra carpets are based on 17th century prototypes, they are not straightforward copies of these earlier examples, but rather the result of a continuous development of this design conceit. Here, the palmettes are slightly enlarged and embellished while the dark brown border is in contrast to the typical indigo border found on the 17th century examples. However, the flawless quality of weave, design and rich coloration in this example parallels the exquisite carpets woven during the golden age of carpet weaving in the workshops of the Persian Emperor Shah Abbas I and the Mughal Indian Emperor Shah Jahan and supports a mid-19th century date.
During the 18th century, carpet weaving in Persia suffered greatly from the military invasions of the Afghan Shahs. As a result of the social and political chaos, carpet weaving in Persia came to a virtual halt. On the other hand, the Mughal Indian looms continued to weave sumptuous carpets, utilizing the rich design traditions of the past. Due to the stability created by the British Raj and the regional power maintained by the Maharajas, 19th century India experienced accomplished artistic activity, particularly in rug weaving. This carpet displays artistic integrity-in both design and material quality- associated with Safavid and Mughal carpets from the 17th century
For a nearly identical Agra carpet from the Estate of Dorothy Dillon Eweson from Far Hills, New Jersey, please see Sotheby's, 1 June 2006, lot 131.