Egypt, 16th century
212 x 139 cm (6’ 11” x 4’ 7”)
Condition: very good according to age, both ends restored (1,5 - 2 cm), outer small border (1 cm) restored, small reweaves in the field
Warp: wool, weft: wool, pile: wool
This beautiful 16th-century Cairene Ottoman court workshop rug, with a small circular centre medallion in yellow and pale green outlined in pale blue, was formerly in the Freiherr von Tucher Collection, Vienna (before World War I). It was exhibited in Munich in 1910, when it was illustrated by Friedrich Sarre/ F.R. Martin in Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst in München 1910. It came to its present owner via a series of European collections and auctions including Jean Lefevres last Brompton Road sale in May 1984 (HALI 6/3, p. 328) and, most recently, Rippon Boswell in November 2001 (HALI 121, p. 133).
The dating of Cairene Ottoman rugs is still uncertain, since it is unlikely that Cairos carpet workshops converted at a stroke from weaving Mamluk carpets to Ottoman floral designs when the Ottomans took the city in 1517. There is evidence that carpets with Mamluk designs were woven quite late in the 16th century, and it is quite possible that at least some, perhaps many, of the Ottoman floral carpets were commissioned from the internationally known Cairo workshops before the Ottoman conquest.
This medallion is central to three different design systems: one has linked palmettes at the cardinal directions, with rosettes in the diagonal positions. The second and third form extended 4:1 compositions, with quarter medallions in the corners of the field, and miniature versions of the medallion between the centre and the corners. The main border is particularly fine, with large yellow pomegranates framed by complex tendrils and separated by upright tulips. Finely drawn plants form the corner designs.
The rug has been restored, and as a result it is not completely clear whether it is the same rug, or an identical pair woven with considerable precision from the same cartoon, to that sold at auction in New York in 1928 from the Estate of Judge Elbert H. Gary. This was later exhibited in Milan in 1999, when it was illustrated by Concaro and Levi in Sovrani Tappeti, Il tappeto orientale dal XV al XIX. Other Cairene Ottoman rugs of the period are known to have been made in pairs, and in at least one instance three identical versions are known.
Estimate: € 60000 - 90000