The tightly controlled pattern of compartments is formed by overlapping cartouches, which are exceptionally varied in coloring and adorned with finely drawn palmettes growing from a vine system. In its floral forms, technical structure, and rich color scheme, this carpet is related to the so-called Vase carpets, believed to have been made in Kirman in southern Iran. Its unusual design of cartouches, however, is also found in two "Polonaise" silk carpets that have been attributed to central Iran.
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Title:Vase-technique Carpet with Overlapping Cartouches
Geography:Made in Iran, probably Kirman or Isfahan
Dimensions:Rug: L. 189 in. (480.1 cm) W. 127 in. (322.6 cm) Tube: L. 140 in. (355.6 cm) Diam. 20 in. (50.8 cm) Wt. 75 lbs. (34 kg) (Carpet weighed with 120 lb. tube at 195 lbs.)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Horace Havemeyer, 1956
This carpet is a splendid example of seventeenth-century Persian pile weaving. It features a continuous repeating field pattern that lacks both the central focus or medallion of many classical Persian pieces and the directional orientation found in pictorial types; in this sense it is reminiscent of a loom-woven textile.
The pattern consists of overlapping cartouches organized in columns and rows. Within the compartments are various palmettes and blossoms linked by a scrolling vine system. The palette is rich and varied and, contrary to usual practice, no single ground color predominates. The field is framed by a narrow border with a reciprocal arabesque whose undulations allow the use of two contrasting ground colors.
The Havemeyer piece belongs to a class known as vase carpets, named for the vases incorporated into the floral patterns of some of the best-known examples. Carpets of this group have much more in common than vase motifs (which many, in fact, lack): a broad palette of unusually crisp and bright colors, very fine wool, and a distinctive weave. The carpets tend to be thick and unpliable because of the extreme depression of alternate warps, and the wefts are an unusual combination of wool and silk or cotton; these features yield a recognizable wear pattern. Vase carpets most frequently display floral lattice patterns; the compartment pattern of the Havemeyer example, while known in other types of classical Persian carpets, is unique among vase carpets.
The question of the provenance of vase carpets has yet to be resolved conclusively, but a number of scholars have assigned them to the city of Kirman, in southeastern Iran. The evidence is largely circumstantial: Kirman is named in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources as a major carpet-weaving center and was also famous for fine wool.
When or where Harry Havemeyer purchased this fine carpet is not known, but it was in the collection of his son, Horace, by 1931, when it was exhibited in London. The acquisition suggests a sophisticated taste, since it is neither a routine example of the vase type nor a typical reflection of the grand furnishing taste for giant Indo-Persian carpets demonstrated by other collectors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Daniel Walker in [Frelinghuysen 1993]
1.. For discussion of this and other vase carpets and for bibliography, see May Beattie, Carpets of Central Persia,London, I976 (Havemeyer carper is no. 67), and Maurice S. Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, I973, pp. 72–77 (Havemeyer carpet is no. 39).
2. In Oriental Rugs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (note 1), Dimand says the rug was formerly in the collection of Dikran Kelekian (no. 39, p. 111), but it has not been possible to verify this.
[ Dikran G. Kelekian (American, born Turkey), New York]; Horace Havemeyer, New York (by 1929–d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)
London. Burlington House. "International Exhibition of Persian Art," January 7, 1931–February 28, 1931, no. 113.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. 113.
Wilson, Arnold T. Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art. 3rd. ed. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1931. no. 113, p. 78.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 296.
Dimand, Maurice S. "The Horace Havemeyer Bequest of Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol.15 (May 1957). pp. 209, 212, ill. p. 212 (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S., and Jean Mailey. Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. no. 39, pp. 75, 110, ill. fig. 105 (b/w).
Frelinghuysen, Alice Cooney. Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 122, ill. pl. 113 (color).
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