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"Lotto" rug, first half XVI century, Turkey, Ottoman Empire. 29 April 2004, Christie's London (SALE 6897), lot 100

The tomato-red field with overall golden yellow lattice formed of cusped quatrefoils alternating with open octagons, each motif formed of separate individual motifs, details picked out in black, ivory and light blue, in a dusty red open kufic border between light blue and golden yellow linked S-motif stripes, corroded black, some areas of slight wear, small cobbled repair at one end, ends and sides overbound, a couple of minute holes
8ft.6in. x 4ft.11in. (259cm. x 150cm.)


Sold for £195 650 ($346 300) a world auction record for a Lotto. Previously sold for $267 565 on 22 April 1999 at Christie's London (lot 100).


Lottos with any form of Kufic border are a great rarity on the market, and most complete specimens have ended up in museums. This form of 'open' Kufic border may be unique for Lottos, though it is known from a small-pattern Holbein and a few early 16th century Italian paintings in which the only Lotto is also in the 'kilim' style. Another kilim-style Lotto, but with the familiar 'closed' Kufic border, appears in a 1538 painting by Benedetto Carpaccio, so the evidence is that the different field and border designs were contemporaneous in the first half of the 16th century. Only two comparable rugs have come up at auction in the past 25 years. A complete if quite damaged and restored rug with a closed Kufic border was sold at PLO on 24 November 1992 for $29,955 (lot6, HALI 67, p.128), while a very pretty example of the 'half open' Kufic border type sold at SNY on 14 December 2001 for $159,750 (lot 48, HALI 121, p.135}. Two slightly later Lottos with different borders sold in CLO's Aita Sale (18 October 2001} for $133,040 and $117,090 (lots 220 and 225, see HALI 120, p.126).