Recognizable by their deep radiating arabesque-filled burgundy fields within dark blue borders as well as by their prevalence in 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings, red-ground Isfahan carpets were among the most sought-after pieces not only in their time, but also in the current market. These classic "in-and-out palmette" designs epitomize the artful and lavish reign of Shah Abbas (1587-1629).
The variety of colors employed in our example, and in particular the numerous shades of green, compliment the intricate overall double layer design of scrolling cloudbands and spiraling tendrils concluding in bold palmettes. Encouragingly, the red ground has not been extensively repiled where worn and the delicate drawing remains clear and allows the imaginative design to move fluidly with a certain vitality.
One striking aspect of this carpet is the minor border which displays an unusual vinery design incorporating stylized scrolled buds. No comparable minor border can be found on any other extant red-ground Isfahans but the motif is probably derived from vinery borders found in 16th Century classical Persian carpets.
While there was previous debate as to whether this group of carpets originated in Persia or India, it is now well established that they were woven in Isfahan, which became the Persian capital in 1598, during the reign of Shah Abbas. The design similarities of this carpet to those of the "Polonaise" carpets woven in Isfahan provides greater certainty of the Isfahan origin.
This rare and complete example demonstrates all the highlights of classical carpets of the type and is a testament to the magnificence of Safavid court art.