During the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774), aristocratic interiors embraced comfort and intimacy and floor carpets became increasingly fashionable. Because the well-established Savonnerie workshop provided carpets exclusively for the the king, other manufactories of carpets were established to match the need: most famously, Aubusson. Flatwoven tapestries had been woven in Aubusson for close to 300 years at that point and it enjoyed a community of skilled workers. Aubusson ateliers worked under royal protection and in the early years subsidized by the government, but were never owned by the government like Savonnerie. The workshops at Aubusson wove their first pile carpet in 1743 and soon it became a desirable alternative to Savonnerie. As early as 1748, Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour ordered Aubusson carpets; by 1786 a Versailles inventory listed twenty-one Aubusson carpets (M. Jarry, The Carpets of Aubusson, pp.13-25).
The design of this carpet is quite whimsical and unusual with a freshness that is perhaps an indication that it is an early example of weaving at Aubusson. The structure of the present carpet is typical for 18th Aubusson pile weavings, with warps only partly depressed with a flat back and no colored 'dizaine" warps'. An Aubusson pile carpet in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, displays a similar treatment of its coffered field (S. Sherrill, op. cit.,p.102, pl. 110) and another example in a private collection, Paris, highlights similar lush, naturalistic mixed-flower bouquets (E. Floret, Great Carpets of the World, p. 275). Compare also two Louis XV Aubusson pile sold Sotheby’s New York, 7 December 2010, lot 149 and Property from the Estate of Mrs. Robert Lehman; 18 November 2010, lot 245).
Condé Montrose Nast (1873-1947) was a debonair character who established the publishing empire that was to reign for more than a century. In the 1920s Nast entertained lavishly in his Park Avenue duplex, where he also held shoots for Vogue that used his French furniture, Aubusson carpets and Chinese screens as exceedingly elegant backdrops.
Famously inheriting a vast tobacco fortune in 1925, Doris Duke (1912-1993) was known as "the world's richest girl." She lived primarily at the vast New Jersey estate her father had created, Duke Farms. Duke had a particular interest in flowers, establishing a 60,000-acre botanical garden at Duke Farms. The present carpet must have appealed to he not only for its unusual green ground and masses of flowers.