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The Willy Von Dirksen Cairene Ottoman Carpet



Price Realized £482,500 ($801,433)

Sale Information
Christies SALE 1519 —
8 April 2014
London, King Street

Lot Description
Localised areas of wear with associated faded repiling, a few small repairs, overall good condition
8ft.3in. x 8ft.2in (251cm. x 248cm.)
With Willy von Dirksen, by 1910

Saleroom Notice
Please note that this carpet is published in Serare Yetkin, Historical Turkish Carpets, Istanbul, 1981, p.115, illustration 72 as having been previously in the collection of L. Bernheimer, Munich, p.115, illustration 72.

Meisterwerke Muhammedanischer Kunst, Katalog, Munich 1911, (reprinted London, 1984), inv. 162 (R.39)
Friedrich Sphuler, Hans König, Martin Volkmann, Alte Orientteppiche, Staatliche Museum fur Volkerkunde, Munich, 1978 no 2, pp.32-3
Kurt Erdmann; Oriental Carpets, London, 1955, pp.47-51

Meisterwerke Muhammedanischer Kunst, Munich, 1910
Old Eastern Carpets, Masterpieces in German Private Collections, Munich 1978

Lot Notes
The design of scrolling flowering vine with rosettes, palmettes and curling saz leaves as seen here, characterizes late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Ottoman carpets produced in Cairo originally intended for the Sultan's court in Istanbul. They were highly regarded and in turn were exported in considerable numbers to the West. As these carpets were disseminated through Europe they slowly began to appear in various Western paintings, in some more clearly than others. One such painting A couple with a Dog, circa 1640 by the Dutch artist, Elias Vonck (1605-1652), now in a private German collection, clearly shows a square-shaped table with an Ottoman Cairene carpet draped across its top, (Hali, April/May/June, 1987, Issue 34, p.6). That carpet is very similar in design to the present lot, even down to the individual single flower head minor stripes. The inclusion of these carpets in paintings such as this, provide us with valuable information as to when the carpets might have been woven which, in this case, must have been at the turn of the century at the latest for it to have been woven, shipped to Europe and painted within this time. For further examples of paintings that include Cairene Ottoman paintings see Onno Ydema, Carpets and their Datings in Netherlandish Paintings, 1540-1700, Zutphen, 1991, pp.19-25.

The field design of the Dirksen Cairene is typical of one sub-group where the medallion and spandrels are superimposed on an endless repeating field of palmettes and saz leaves. A hand drawn diagram of the design for this group is included in Erdmann op.cit, fig.t, p.49. Serare Yetkin discusses this in her study on Turkish carpets (S. Yetkin, Historical Turkish Carpets, Istanbul, 1981, pp.101-127; also Walter Denny, 'The Origin and Development of Ottoman Court Carpets', Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies II, London, 1986, pp.243-259). A comparable example is in the Städtische Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, (Kurt Erdman, The History of the Early Turkish Carpet, London, 1977, fig.41, p.45), although the minor stripes in that rug are a little more elaborate and the main roundel has linked radiating petals issuing from its central flower head. The field design on the Dirksen rug is also better spaced and allows the eye to travel through the field and around each spiral without interruption. Further examples, including some slight variants in the group, can be seen in Otto Bernheimer; Alte Teppiche des 16.-18. Jahrhunderts der Firma L. Bernheimer, Munich, 1959, pl.5., a rug in the collection of Prince Paar, Vienna (Yetkin, op.cit., p.121, illus. 74) and a rug formerly in the collection of Susan and Lewis Manilow, sold Sotheby's New York, 7 April 1992, lot 86.

It has been suggested that the earliest Cairene carpets only used the three-colour Mamluk palette (see for example lot 99 in The Bernheimer Family Collection of Carpets, sold in these Rooms, 14th February 1996), but by the mid-16th century a number of other colours had been introduced, with a total of seven colours being employed in the present lot; red, light blue, yellow, grass-green, pale green, tan and white. The green and blue colours within this rug in particular, remain in a wonderful state of preservation with a soft silky pile and glorious luminosity. The popularity of these beautiful Ottoman carpets with Western collectors has not ceased from the early part of the 17th century to the present day, as demonstrated by their inclusion in most major carpet collections of this period.