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Type I Small pattern Holbein carpet in a green ground, late XV / early XVI century. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Small-pattern Holbein carpet (NOT ON VIEW)
15th century

458.5 x 212.1 cm (180 1/2 x 83 1/2 in.)


MEDIUM OR TECHNIQUE: Wool warp, wool weft, wool knotted pile, Spanish knot

Mudejars, or Spanish Muslim craftsmen working for Christian patrons, made this vivid carpet, adopting its design--a field pattern of octagons and diamonds and a border derived from Arabic script--from contemporary Turkish carpets. Several European painters, including Hans Holbein the Younger (about 1497-1543) , depicted such carpets, and their design has become known as "small-pattern Holbein".

Unlike its Turkish models, this carpet is woven with the single warp knot then peculiar to Spain.

Warp, white wool; weft, white wool, four passes between each row of knots; Spanish knots, 20 to a square centimeter. The ground of the main field is dark green; the design of medallions is bright yellow, red, blue, black, green, violet, and white. The ground of the main border is red; the design, in imitation of Kufic (angular Arabic) script, is white, green, black, blue, yellow, and red. The guard borders have designs of medallions, interlaces, and geometric forms.

Provenance: Lent by Dr. George A. Kennedy and Mrs. Mary Price Kennedy, April 11, 1913. Transferred to Mrs. Mary Price Kennedy, June 26, 1926.
Credit Line: Elizabeth H. Flint Fund, In memory of Sarah Gore Flint Townsend