The carpet fragment offered here is a very rare example of the early carpet production of the Aubusson weaving ateliers. In the early 18th century, the demand for carpets amongst the aristocratic and wealthy classes of France greatly surpassed the availability of such carpets. The carpets woven at the Savonnerie were almost exclusively for the King and imported carpets from the East were extremely expensive and difficult to obtain. In the 1740s, entrepreneurial merchants and weavers began experimenting with the production of carpets in the long established tapestry workshops of Aubusson. At first, the designs of the Aubusson carpets mainly imitated Persian and Turkish carpets which were still highly coveted as symbols reflecting the status and refinement of their owners. By the late 1740s and early 1750s, however, the Aubusson workshops began weaving carpets in the rococo style that dominated all of the French arts, often utilizing the same designs as the Savonnerie.
The Mikaeloff fragment intriguingly combines the two popular styles of the Turkish and French tastes, indicating a mid-1740s date for the piece. Here, the field design is based on the patterns seen in Symrna carpets from the Oushak region of Turkey, while the partial medallion is a nearly fully developed rococo design of strap-work, scrolling acanthus leaves and berried laurel branches. Another Aubusson example with the combination of the Eastern and French taste, woven for Cardinal de Rohan, delivered 1745, is in the Palais Rohan chapel, Strasbourg (see Floret, op. cit., p.57). The Cardinal de Rohan carpet, however, has a more complete traditional Turkish design superimposed with the Cardinals arms. Whereas, the Mikaeloff fragment demonstrates more fineness of design by combining the two styles into an intergrated whole. Although it is difficult to identify the exact designers of the early Aubusson carpets, it is most likely that the present peice was designed by Jean-Joseph Dumons, painter and designer to the King. Dumons was principally responsible for Aubusson carpet designs from 1743 until 1750.
For a more thorough discussion of this rare group of early Aubusson carpets and the socio-economic history of their production, please see the aforementioned articles by Elisabeth Floret in L'Estampille/Objet d'Art and Great Carpets of the World.