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A LARGE CAIRENE CARPET, EGYPT, OTTOMAN EMPIRE, SECOND HALF 16TH CENTURY
Price Realized $199,867
$89,640 - $119,520
Christies SALE 10374 —
ORIENTAL RUGS AND CARPETS
21 April 2015
London, King Street
Localised wear, a few small repairs, overall good condition
23ft.11in. x 13ft.6in. (727cm. x 410cm.)
Provenance: With the present owner since 1950
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SPANISH COLLECTOR
The large central floral medallion and rosette vinery border of this carpet reflect Sultan Selim's imposition of Ottoman stylistic principles on Egyptian carpets after he conquered Cairo in 1517. At that point, Turkish design elements including spring flowers, palmettes and leafy floral vinery in allover and medallion compositions, replace the geometric formalism of Mamluk carpets previously in production in Cairo. The emergence of this new style and its development has been the subject of considerable study. The best introduction remains, E. Kuhnel and L. Bellinger, Cairene Rugs and Those Technically Related, Washington D.C., 1957, pp.41-64. It is generally accepted today that the earliest examples of the group were made in Cairo, adapting the Ottoman design aesthetic with traditional Mamluk materials and techniques. The very earliest examples only used the three-colour Mamluk palette (see for example lot 99 in The Bernheimer Family Collection of Carpets, sold in these Rooms, 14th February 1996), but by the mid-16th century a number of other colours had been introduced. Notable among these were second tones of both blue and green used independently of each other, black, ivory and yellow, Walter Denny, "The Origin and Development of Ottoman Court Carpets", Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies II, London, 1986, pp.243-259.
The field design of the present carpet is typical of one sub-group where the medallion and spandrels are superimposed on an endless repeating field of palmettes and saz leaves. Serare Yetkin discusses this in her study on Turkish carpets (see S. Yetkin, Historical Turkish Carpets, Istanbul, 1981, pp.101-127; also W. Denny, 'The Origin and Development of Ottoman Court Carpets', Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies II, London, 1986, pp.243-259). The same clarity of drawing in both the border and field design of the present lot can be found on an extremely similar example offered in these Rooms by Davide Halevim, 14 February, 2001, lot 54.
This carpet is remarkably well preserved and it is a type which so very often only survives in an extensively worn or heavily restored condition. The typically soft wool is very susceptible to wear and has therefore been very substantially repiled in most examples. One typical example was sold by Christie's on the premises at Hackwood House (20-22 April 1998, lot 1118). Of similar palmette and saz leaf field design; that carpet had very little of the original red pile visible. A further comparable carpet is in the Textile Museum, Washington (Ernst Kuhnel and Louisa Bellinger, Cairene Rugs and Others Technically Related, 15th Century-17th Century, Washington D.C., 1957, no.R 1.126, p.43 and pl.XXIII). Both the Hackwood and the Textile Museum carpets differ from the present lot in their inclusion of cintamani stripes interwoven amongst the Turkish flowers within the medallion and spandrels. A carpet with a closely related medallion and spandrel design to ours was formerly in the James F. Ballard Collection and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (M. S. Dimand, and J. Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, fig.190, no.107).
Like their Mamluk counterparts, very few Ottoman Cairene rugs appear to have been depicted in Western paintings, perhaps because of their complex patterning and muted coloration. This is not to say that they weren't extremely popular with European collectors in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and many appear listed in European collection inventories of the period (Donald King and David Sylvester, The Eastern Carpet in the Western World from the 15th to the 17th Century, London, 1983, p.79).
Leighton House Museum