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"Lotto" Arabesque rug with kufesque border, Anatolia, early 16th century. published MILESTONES IN THE HISTORY OF CARPETS by JON THOMPSON. Moshe Tabibnia Collection, Milan 2006


109x180cm (3'7"x5'11").


From the James Lucas Collection, the following sold on 14 December 2001 (lot 48) for $159,750 (Est 30,00040,000 USD), now with Moshe Tabibnia. Information:


An Oushak "Lotto" rug, West Anatolia, early 16th century, remnants of original kilim ends, oxidized browns, rewoven side guard stripes, sides fraying, small reweaves, scattered repiling, approximately 5 ft. 11 in. by 3 ft. 7 in. (1.80 by 1.09 m.)
Warp: wool, Z2S, natural ivory
Weft: wool, Z-spun, 2 shoots, red; 1 inch blue at upper end
Pile: wool, symmetrical knot
Density: 9-10 horizontal, 12-13 vertical
Sides: not original
Ends: remnants of blue kilim
Colors: madder red, deep blue, light blue, blue-green, yellow, ivory, walnut



1)Ed Zakian, New York
2)James A. Lucas



Sotheby's notes: Lorenzo Lotto, in his 1542 painting of St. Anthony for the church of S. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, depicted a rug almost identical to that offered here. See Coletti, Luigi, Lotto, Bergamo, 1953, fig. 189 for an illustration of the entire picture, or Mills, John, "'Lotto' Carpets in Western Paintings," Hali, vol.3, no. 4, fig. 11 for a detail showing the 'Lotto' rug. For years referred to as 'arabesque' rugs, then 'Holbein' rugs with which they differed in field pattern but shared border designs, in the 1950s they became known as "Lotto" rugs. This was due to their appearance in a number of western artists' works and in particular Lotto, with probably the best known being the Family Group, painted in 1547 and now in The National Gallery, London, see Mills, John, op.cit., pl. 12, p. 280. The earliest Western depiction of a "Lotto" rug is in the 1516 work of Sebastiano del Piombo, Cardinal Bandinello Sauli, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., for a detail, see Mills, ibid, fig. 1. In order for these Eastern rugs to be included in Western paintings, their production in Turkey most likely began in the 15th century. For a thorough discussion of the history of early Turkish carpets see Franses, Michael and Pinner, Robert, "Turkish Carpets in the Victoria and Albert Museum: The 'Classical' Carpets of the 15th to 17th Centuries," Hali, v. 6, no. 4, pp. 357-381.

The "Lotto" group of carpets have field designs of three varying types, classified by Charles Grant Ellis as 'Anatolian', 'Ornamented' and 'Kilim,' see Ellis, C. G., "The 'Lotto' Pattern as a Fashion in Carpets," Festschrift fur Peter Wilhelm Meister, Hamburg, 1975. The present rug has an 'Anatolian' field pattern that is enclosed by a Kufesque border. Here, the Kufesque border is open to the outside of the rug, as found in the earliest depiction of a "Lotto" rug, the Sebastiano del Piombo work cited, as well as in the Lotto painting of St. Anthony previously mentioned. "Lotto" rugs with the Kufesque border are generally accepted by scholars as being the earliest of the group as they appear in the earliest paintings. There are around 14 "Lotto" rugs extant that feature an 'Anatolian' field and open Kufesque border as in the lot offered here, with examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art , and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Please see a listing of published examples below and Eskenazi, John, Il tappeto orientale dal XV al XVIII secolo, London, 1981, p. 54, footnote 12 for a listing of similar rugs and fragments known to date.

While all of the rugs cited and the present rug share field and major border designs, there are differences in the flanking guard borders and color of the major border. Here, a light blue inner border with a red and yellow ribbon, and a wider red outer border enclosing an unusually spacious meander vine punctuated by flowerheads flank the blue-green open Kufesque border. This appears to be the only rug example with this combination of borders and it is precisely this configuration of borders that are depicted in Lotto's painting of St. Anthony.

For related examples please refer to:
Dimand, M.S. and Mailey, J., Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, fig. 158, p. 184, cat. no. 68.
Bensoussan, Pamela, "Five 'Lotto' Rugs in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris," Hali, vol. 3, no. 4, fig. 1, p. 276.
Ellis, Charles Grant, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, pls. 6, 7 (inward oriented Kufesque border), 8, pp. 22-29.
Dimand, Maurice S., The Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs in the City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 1935, pl. XXI.
Lanier, Mildred B., English and Oriental Carpets at Williamsburg, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 1975, pl. 23, pp. 70-71.
Mills, John, "'Lotto' Carpets in Western Paintings," Hali, vol. 3, no. 4, p. 282 from the Wher Collection, Switzerland.
Eskenazi, John, Il tappeto orientale dal XV al XVIII secolo, London, 1981, pl. 7 and Alexander, Christopher, A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art, Berkeley, 1993, pp. 228-229.
Franses, Michael and Pinner, Robert, "Turkish Carpets in the Victoria and Albert Museum: The 'Classical' Carpets of the 15th to 17th Centuries," Hali, vol. 6, no. 4, fig. 6, p. 364.
Boralevi, Alberto, Oriental Geometries: Stefano Bardini and the Antique Carpet, Florence, 1999, pp. 54-55.

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