Art/ Collection/ Art Object


late 16th century
Attributed to Iran
Cotton (warp and weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile
H. 288 3/4 in. (733.4 cm) W. 120 1/8 in (305.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1959
Accession Number:
Not on view

In this rug we have the 16th-century ancestor of the Isfahans of the 17th and 18th centuries, frequently incorrectly dated into the 16th century.

Included in the Chicago Exhibition of 1926 (no.14) it has been described in detail by Arthur U. Pope. Our description follows largely his masterful analysis.

"The field is ornamented by a rich and brilliant array of huge palmettes, numerous styles of lotus flowers, pairs of phoenix and many cloud bands, with asymmetrical loops placed at various angles throughout. The main floral motives and dainty star-like interstitial blossoms are set on two orders of even, delicate spirals on conflicting circuits. The entire design moves in stately measure symmetrically about an invisible centre."

Dr. Pope concludes his discussion as follows: ‘Not all of the so-called "Ispahans" are on a red ground with a green border. While that style was always popular and became stereotyped by the European demand, the older quieter harmonies of blue and gold, such as we find dominant in the Ardabil carpet in some of the pieces from Northwest Persia, were favoured by the early designers. The perfection of this carpet, which is evident when compared with the commoner types, consists not merely in the quietly satisfying colours and perfect drawing, but in the conception which reveals an unerring knowledge of the vital moving qualities of lines, so that they contagiously swing a sympathetic observer into their own easy and graceful motion.’ (Chicago Exhibition, p. 53)

[Arts Council 1972]
[ Dikran G. Kelekian, New York, by 1926–at least 1938]; Joseph V. McMullan, New York (until 1959; gifted to MMA)
The Art Club of Chicago. "Loan Exhibition of Early Oriental Carpets," 1926, 14.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Islamic Carpets: The Joseph V. McMullan Collection," June 11, 1970–August 2, 1970, no. 48.

Harari, Ralph, and Richard Ettinghausen. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, edited by Arthur Upham Pope. Vol. I-VI. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1938. v. III, p. 2363, ill. v. VI, pl. 1186.

"Catalogue of an exhibition held at the] Hayward Gallery, London, 19 October–10 December 1972." In Islamic Carpets from the Joseph V. McMullan Collection. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972. no. 14, p. 37, ill. pl. II (color).

McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 14, 69-8-75, ill. pl. 14 (color).

"The Joseph V. McMullan Collection." In Islamic Carpets. New York, 1970. no. 48.

Dimand, Maurice S., and Jean Mailey. Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. no. 27, pp. 68, 106, ill. fig. 95 (b/w).

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