The field design of this carpet is named after the artist Lorenzo Lotto who painted two examples of the design in 1542 and 1547. It appears in its many slightly different forms in Italian paintings from the 1520s until early in the eighteenth century (Mills, John: ''Lotto' carpets in Western Paintings', Hali, vol.3, no.4, pp.278-289). It similarly appears in Dutch paintings, the earliest appearance being in 1544, continuing through at least until the end of the seventeenth century (Ydema, Onno: Carpets and their datings in Netherlandish Paintings, 1540-1700, Zutphen, 1991, pp.239 and 131-143). The field designs have been divided into three different styles by Grant Ellis (Charles: 'The 'Lotto' Pattern as a Fashion in Carpets', Festschrift für Peter Wilhelm Meister, 1975, pp.19-31), a division of styles which has been used almost universally subsequently, even if the conclusions drawn by the author have not been fully accepted. The field of the present carpet falls into the 'kilim' style, typified by the serrated edges of the motifs.
The border design is a highly unusual variant on the 'open kufic' border. Among the early depictions this general border type is certainly the most frequently occurring. And unlike some of the other designs which appear early, such as the 'ragged palmette' design, the 'open kufic' border went out of popularity, its latest appearance, with one exception which is dubious in any case, being in the late sixteenth century. However, this variant, including as it does a stellar flowerhead between the kufic elements instead of the more usual single bar or cross-motif, does not appear on any of the paintings or rugs described by Mills (op.cit) or in the numerous variants of the kufic border explored by Robert Pinner and Jackie Stranger (''Kufic' Borders on 'Small Pattern Holbein' Carpets', Hali, vol.1, no.4, pp.335-338). The other unusual feature of this border is that it is in effect a 'double open kufic' border, with both sides open rather than the more normal single open side found in the 'open kufic' design. This feature appears on a single painting of a 'Lotto' rug, where the motifs are divided by the more normal vertical bars, dateable to the 1530s or 1540s (Portrait of a Lady by an unknown Romagnan school artist, Galleria Spada, Rome, in Mills, op.cit, p.281). Mills goes on to show he has found the border on one rug, a Small-Pattern Holbein illustrated by Schmutzler (Emil: Altorientalische Teppiche in Siebenbürgen, Leipzig, 1933, pl.11) and two on rugs depicted in paintings with fields other than the 'Lotto' design. These are both versions of the Madonna and Child with Saints by Giovanni Buonconsiglio, one in the Duomo of Montagnana dating from 1511, the other of around 1530 is in the National Museum of Warsaw (formerly in Breslau). None of these examples however have the small stellar flowerhead seen in the present design. The incidence of this border appearing in paintings makes a date of the first half of the sixteenth century certain.
The rug is in a remarkably good state of preservation, particularly in that it retains the outer guard stripe around the entire rug. The selvages have been wrapped in red cloth; it is very possible that the original selvage remains.