"Ghirlandaio" carpets are named for the Italian Renaissance artist Domenico Ghirlandaio, in whose paintings these distinctive carpets sometimes appear. The typical design of these carpets features a central octagonal medallion inscribed within a square from whose sides curvilinear designs emerge, forming the overall diamond shape shown here. This carpet is likely the production of a small commercial workshop or a village weaver.
A few small rugs of great charm have come down to us which one could well call ‘Holbein-variants’. They do show certain pattern elements reflecting earlier designs but feature a dominant central medallion in contrast to the overall pattern of the ‘Holbeins’ and ‘Lottos’. The central medallion is square in form enclosing an octagon which in turn supports a stepped medallion surrounding an eight-pointed star. In contrast this rigid rectangle is placed upon a diamond-shape of exuberant floral form. In the four corners of the field four relatively large octagonal medallions are placed, filled with stars and arabesques, producing an ideal balance with the central medallion. The main border is relatively narrow and simple, but the two guard-borders with four-lobed flowers in repeat successfully sustain the powerful pattern of the field.
[Arts Council 1972]
Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1965–d. 1973; bequeathed to MMA)
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Le Ciel dans un tapis (Heaven in a Carpet)," December 7, 2004–March 27, 2005, no. 5.
Lisbon. Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. "Le Ciel dans un tapis (Heaven in a Carpet)," April 28, 2005–July 31, 2005, no. 5.
"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. 96, p. 52, ill. pl. XXXV (color).
McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 96, pp. 296-297, ill. pl. 96 (color).
Le Ciel dans un Tapis. Paris and Lisbon: Editions Snoeck, 2004. no. 5, pp. 92-93, ill. p. 93 (color).