Lot 100 of sale 7845 by Christies in London on April 15th 2010
A Kirman (Kerman) 'Vase Carpet' from Southeast Persia Mid-17th century in the size of 11'1" x 5' at a record sale price and per square foot basis (173,232.97 USD per square foot)! The Price paid, $9.599 Million (inlcuding buyer's premium) has exceeded the record by nearly DOUBLE the previous record set only years ago by Christie's of NY for the doris duke isfahan.
A KIRMAN 'VASE' CARPET
SOUTH EAST PERSIA, MID-17TH CENTURY
Corroded black, minute repairs in centre, otherwise outstanding
11ft.1in. x 5ft. (339cm. x 153cm.)
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be
added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive
Please note that the present carpet is illustrated in Arthur Upham Pope,
A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, pl.1232.
THE COMTESSE DE BEHAGUE VASE CARPET
Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, pl.1232
Some of the earliest vase designs are extremely intricate, with a
plethora of blossoms, leaves and trees in brilliant colours. One
example is the spectacular fragment exhibited in Milan in 1981 (Il
Tappeto Orientale dal XV al XVIII secolo, London, 1981, no.26,
p.88), which closely relates to the Corcoran "vase" carpet (Arthur Upham
Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, pl.1234). Two
fragments of a carpet with a slightly later version of a similar design,
now in the Victoria and Albert Museum and in the Burrell Collection
Glasgow, were exhibited in 1976 (May Beattie, Central Persian Carpets,
exhibition catalogue, Birmingham and Sheffield, 1976, nos 18 and 19).
From these extremely complex designs various elements appear to have
been used in later carpets to create different effects.
The designs on these two carpets were simplified and clarified in a
spectacular carpet now in the Gulbenkian Collection (Persian Art,
Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, Lisbon, 1972, no.30; Le ciel dans
un tapis, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2004, no,52, pp.188-9).
This has spectacular swirling scrolling saz leaves enclosing
palmettes on a near black ground. Further related examples are known
where the palmettes have greater prominence, becoming more static in
appearance, such as one now in the Khalili Collection (Il Tappeto
Orientale, pl.25, p.87 and cover; J. M. Rogers, The Arts of
Islam, Masterpieces from the Nasser D. Khalili Collection, Abu
Dhabi, 2008, no.400, pp.336-7), and the carpet formerly in the
collection of Mrs Brown (Pope, op.cit, pl.1236).
An interesting feature of these last three carpets is that they all
split the curving serrated leaves into two or three colours, running
longitudinally. The de Behague carpet uses exactly this tripartite
division of the leaves, but the designers have worked out an arrangement
that makes the blossoms completely secondary to the leaves. It is no
longer the powerful scrolling of individual leaves that creates the
energy of the design; here it is the rhythm set up by the interlocking
leaves. Their stems and the drawing of the individual plants growing
from each end of the carpet create one rhythm, but the colouring, which
makes facing leaves from two different plants still have the same
colours, creates the counterpoint. It is an apparently simple but
wonderfully satisfying design.
It is also a carpet which can claim to be the earliest design which can
clearly be demonstrated to be a prototype for the most popular Persian
carpet design of all - the so-called herati pattern. A
comparison of the design on this carpet with that on the field of the
early Qashqai rug in this sale, lot 136, shows leaves with very similar
tripartite division, but with the extra section where the stem joins
which makes them look like fish - hence "mahi" design. In both
versions they flank a small rosette flowerhead. The stems alternate
small palmettes and rosette flowerheads. Even the little two leaves are
there below each of the palmettes on the main stems. Here then is an
example of yet another Kirman "vase" design which was to be come hugely
influential in later carpet design.
Martine Marie Pol, Comtesse de Béhague, formed a renowned collection
which included spectacular Antiquities, a very good selection of Islamic
Art, and a number of both European and oriental carpets. Much of the
collection was dispersed in two sales at her death in 1927 and 1928, but
this carpet was not included. Pope seemed to think that it was still
in the family collection, which had been passed on to her husband the
Marquis de Ganay. Indications are that this outstanding carpet was sold
from the collection at some stage between the 1930s and 1950s.
This carpet provides yet another piece of evidence for the theory that
the weavers of Kirman in the seventeenth century were the most inventive
and influential of all carpet designers in the history of the Persian
carpet. Its design is a wonderful synthesis and distillation of some of
the earlier "vase" designs into something that has huge charm, subtelty
and balance, combined into a deceptive simplicity.