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Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection,
Corcoran Gallery of Art
New York | 05 Jun 2013, 10:00 AM | N09012

approximately 6ft. 6in. by 4ft. 5in. (1.98 by 1.35m.)
Circa 1600

ESTIMATE 60,000-80,000 USD
Lot Sold: 317,000 USD

Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Carpets for the Great Shah, October 3 - November 16, 1948
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Masterpieces: European Arts from the Collection, August 25, 2007 - April
15, 2008

The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Illustrated Handbook of The W. A. Clark Collection, The Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Washington, D.C.: W. F. Roberts Company, 1928, p. 74
"Carpets for the Great Shah: The Near-Eastern Carpets from the W. A. Clark Collection," The Corcoran Gallery of Art
Bulletin, Washington, D.C., Vol. 2, No. 1, October 1948, p. 26

As visible in the field of lot 1, the design of Ottoman Cairene rugs is most often made out of scrolling floral vinery
lattice with rosettes, palmettes and curling saz, arched lush reed leaves that characterize late sixteenth and
seventeenth century Ottoman art. However, whereas that carpet is a transitional piece between the Mamluk and
Ottoman aesthetic, this rug is completely in the Ottoman style as both its field and main border are populated by the
abovementioned vegetal motifs. The border’s in-and-out curling saz leaves appear in numerous surviving Ottoman
Cairene examples, including carpets in the Stefano Bardini Collection, see Alberto Boralevi, Geometrie d’Oriente:
Stefano Bardini e il tappeto antico, Livorno, 1999, pp. 32-33. The inner and outer guard borders with their small flower
heads are also typical to Ottoman Cairene rugs and can be seen in other examples such as the one sold Sotheby’s
New York, April 7, 1992, lot 86. What makes the present rug unique is the scale of the reed leaves of the field:
regardless of their size, Ottoman Cairene rugs and carpets always have fields densely decorated with small-scale saz
leaves. Lot 1 in this sale is a good example of this custom. For a large medallion carpet with a field populated by a
myriad of small curling reed leaves see Moshe Tabibnia, Milestones in the History of Carpets, Milan, 2006, p. 168. A
small Cairene fragment where the small leaves are accented by a large number of flower heads, making the pattern
even more condensed, sold Sotheby’s New York, June 2, 2010, lot 37. The field of the rug offered here is dominated
by four large and particularly lush saz leaves that completely overpower the medium-size medallion centering a
horizontal row of palmettes, giving the rug a very interesting symmetry and balance. Since the border is decorated
with leaves of customary size, the large leaves in the field appear even more exaggerated and powerful. For a rug
with almost identically curved saz leaves, but of smaller scale, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, see M.
S. Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, p. 200. The pairs of
large scale curling leaves in this rug are more typical of larger carpets, see John Kimberly Mumford, The Yerkes
Collection of Oriental Carpets, New York, 1910, pl. 24; Arthur Upham Pope, Early Oriental Carpets, (exh.
cat.), Chicago, 1926, p. 90; Sotheby's New York, September 24, 1991, lot 240. The remarkable condition and
retention of color of the present rug allows this highly unusual design to read extremely well.
Fig. 1
Saz leaf on an Ottoman blue and white tile, Turkey or Syria, late
16th century.