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THE BERNHEIMER COUPLED-COLUMN PRAYER RUG WEST ANATOLIA, MID 17TH CENTURY
Price Realized £116,500 ($193,507)
Christies SALE 1519 —
ORIENTAL RUGS & CARPETS
8 April 2014
London, King Street
THE BERNHEIMER COUPLED-COLUMN PRAYER RUG
WEST ANATOLIA, MID 17TH CENTURY
Virtually full pile throughout, localised spots of moth damage, a small repair, selvages partially missing, overall very good condition.
5ft.1in. x 3ft.7in. (155cm. x 108cm.)
With Otto Bernheimer by 1959
Otto Bernheimer, Alte Teppiche des 16. Bis 18 Jahrhunderts der Firma L. Bernheimer, Munich, 1959, bild. 52 in black and white
Friedrich Spuhler, Hans Konig and Martin Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets: Masterpieces in German Private Collections, Munich, 1978, pl.15, pp.58-59
Charles Grant Ellis, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, fig. 34a, p.103
Hali Vol. I, No. 3, Autumn 1978, Review of the Bernheimer Exhibition, p.300 in black and white
Hali Vol. II, No. I, Spring 1979, Walter B. Denny, ‘The Origin of the Designs of Ottoman Court Carpets’, pl.1 in colour and p.11 in black and white
Alte Orientteppiche, Staatliche Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, 1978
Anatolian coupled-column prayer rugs are an exceptional group of Ottoman court rugs, characterised by their elegant proportions and effortless melding of delicate architectural details and stylised floral elements. In her oft-cited article ‘Coupled-column Prayer Rugs’, May Beattie discusses the development of the design of this small group and traces their origins back to the great 16th century court rugs such as the Ballard Prayer Rug in the Metropolitan Museum (‘Coupled-column Prayer Rugs’, Oriental Art, New Series, vol.XIV, no.4, Winter 1968, pp.243-258). A root that seems to be backed up by the discovery in the late 1970s of a Cairene carpet of Mamluk design, with panels at either end of crenellations and tulips, Walter B. Denny, ‘The Origin of the Designs of Ottoman Court Carpets’, Hali Vol. II, No. I, Spring 1979, p.6.
Our rug relates closely to a number of coupled-columned prayer rugs illustrated in Stefano Ionescu, Antique Ottoman Rugs In Transylvania, Rome, 2005, pp.162-163 but in particular cat. 201, a beautiful example from the Black Church, Brasov, inv. no. 227. The present example and the Black Church rug have very similar proportions, palette and drawing, with the exception of the capitals of the columns. However, the condition and colours of our prayer rug are quite exceptional. In this respect the present rug most closely relates to the prayer rug formerly in the collection of Emil Schmutzler, which also has articulated capitals (Stefano Ionescu, ibid., Rome 2005, cat.197, p.162).
The dating of these rugs has in the past varied greatly, but is helped by Nicolaes van Gelder’s inclusion of a coupled-column prayer rug of this group in his 1664 painting, Sill Life, now in the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. In this almost photo-naturalistic painting, in spite of the abundance of fruit and flowers placed on top of the rug, the bold cartouche border, side column and arabesque spandrel design is unmistakable. The present lot is a superlative example of this group.