Tag: design

“German” Condition

Sometimes in the antique rug industry, you will come across a client who is looking for a rug in “German” Condition (Generally, this will be a European client). What this means is that they are looking for a rug that is in perfect condition, with an un-used look. The phrase comes from the fact that rugs in Europe just don’t age the same as those in America. In many European nations, the antique rug is revered. They are placed in show rooms where they are generally un-touched. The rugs in these types of settings age very well. Their color is strong, their pile full, and are without stains or spills. In many instances one cannot even tell that rugs in such perfect condition are antique at all.
For most Americans, however, this is a turn off. Generally, an American client desires that patina that comes with a used antique rug. It is a look, or feeling, that is telling of the rugs age and history.
The way that antique rugs are used and stored can greatly affect what market they will be sellable in. Rugs which have been kept pristine and new looking will be more valuable to the European market, while rugs that show age and use tend to be more desired in the American market.


#19647 Khotan | As Seen in Rooms With a View

Rug #: 19647

Type: Khotan

Origin: China

Size: 4’8″ x 7’7″

Circa: 1920

When George Marshall Peters of Pamela Bankers office asked if we would be interested in participating in their Rooms  With a View show space we were delighted. The vignette that George had planned out was influenced by a recent trip to Asia, and included a piece of art from his own collection. The painting contained delicate cranes upon a golden ground, with a rice paper feel, which strongly influenced the rest of the design–and screamed to be accompanied by a soft toned Asian carpet.

With a small (approximately 8′ square) floorplan, wallpaper samples, photos of the furniture, and the feeling of the central art piece in mind, George and I began our search.Though we pulled a few other options out that could have worked, it was clear that a warm, traditional Chinese piece was the best way to go for the space he imagined.

Photo via MANUFOTO

While George had originally nixed this Khotan as an option due to it’s size, Ramin and I knew it was a great match for the look he was going for.  Many designers will rule out perfectly fitted rugs based on architectural lines drawn on paper, rather than trying the rug in the space.  Upon sight of this carpet though, George agreed to see if it would fit, without making the room feel cramped.

Photo via MANUFOTO

Though the Khotan does fit wall to wall, the vignette was a huge success, each element falling into place beautifully – the carpet really completing the conversation between the other components of the room.  The golden neutral tones of the rug were woven in beautifully with the naturally textured wallpaper and golden collectables placed about, the earthy browns complimenting the darkness of the floor and furniture, and the subtle geometry pulling in the small geometric art elements that George used in perfecting the details of this space.


#20231 Indian Agra: circa 1850

Agra Carpet
Northern India
8’0” x 10’0”
Circa 1850


Warp: cotton, white, natural, Z-6 to 8-S
Weft:    cotton, white, natural, Z-3-S, Z-4-S, Z-5-S
2 shoots of weft alternating either 1 straight and 1 wavy, or both shoots straight.
Knots: wool, Z-2
Either Persia (asymmetrical) knots open left, horizontal.  15 x vertical 13 = 195/in².
Persian (asymmetrical) jufti knots, open left, horizontal.  7.5 x vertical 13 = 98/in².
Alternate warps depressed 80-90°
Finishes: not original


This carpet is an excellent mid 19th century interpretation of a classical c.1600 Indo-Isfahan in the iconic in-and-out palmette and cloudband pattern, on a claret red lac ground.  The pattern is not centered and the actual vertical axis of the design is displaced approximately 9” to the right.  In a larger carpet it would be exactly centered, but it should be noted that even period rugs in this pattern may have design offsets.  The ability to shift the pattern indicates the use of a cartoon or a talim (a coded pattern book “read” out loud by a “talim reader”).

The border also follows the classical manner closely with an in-and-out palmette and thin vine design on a nicely abrashed sapphire blue ground.  The inner directional arrow head border also is consistent with the classical model.

The detail colors of blue-green, orange-ochre, tan, dark brown and buff are also traditional.

It is still an open question as to whether the classical prototypes are Persian (Isfahan) or Indian (Agra), but only Agra carpets of the 19th century carry on the design tradition virtually unchanged, although the long and narrow 17th century format has been replaced by more Western proportions.  Many Agra carpets, often of exceptional size, were woven by inmates of the local jail, but this is more likely to be a regular creation of fine quality by a local merchant.

The Jufti knots occur in areas of plain color and in irregular patches overall.  They may be seen both on the front and back of the rug.  The use of Jufti knots, allowing for quicker execution, seems to have appeared in Agra around 1800 and is an import from Khorossan in NE Persia where it is the standard knotting technique.  Although the weaving quality of jufti-knotted carpets in often severely compromised if their overall wool quality is low, their carpet is piled in excellent quality wool and the knots are closely packed.  As a result, it has aged well and is still in fine condition.  It is a decorative carpet with no elements of later design trends or tastes.

To view this rug on our website, please use this link:



Flemmish Tapestry #20440: circa 1700

Tapestry, Flemish, probably Brussels, depicting a scene from the Story of Tobias.

Late 17th Century

7’ 2” x 10’ 2” (originally approximately 10-10’ 6” x 12’ 6”- 13”)

No weaver’s on town mark.

Rebordered in plain stripes; slightly reduced from larger piece.


Warp: wool, beige, natural, Z-2-S, 11-12 warps/in

Pattern Wefts:

  1. wool, Z-1
  2. silk, golden-beige only, not original, several restoration campaigns.

Weft density: wool, 21-25 facing wefts (42-50 overall) /inch.

Subject: Tobias and the archangel Rafael.

The iconographic source is the Apocryphal Book of Tobit (O.T.). The present panel displays vigorous, almost life size figures of Tobias, son of Tobit and his escort Rafael in the guise of Azarias, and accompanied by his faithful dog. Tobias and the Angel are in semi-classical garb, thus placing the action in an ancient or mythical past. Further, Tobias is dressed as a hunter with spear and bow, but lacks quiver and arrows.  His dog is a hunting hound. The garments of both protagonists are wind blown, thus indicating rapid forward movement.

The iconography of Tobias varies in Western art, but here he is a young man with a blonde mustache, not the boy as is frequent in this tale. The angel is androgynous (the pearl earring) and lacks any angelic attributes. The wings are mimicked by the windblown drapery. They will only be revealed later. The figures pass through a pure, wooded landscape with no buildings or people visible in the small views through the forest. There is a variety of small flowering plants in the lower foreground.

This panel comes from a set of at least four (or probably six) tapestries which may have included some of the following scenes:

  1. The blinding of old Tobit, Tobias’s father, from bird droppings in his eyes.
  2. Tobias taking leave of his father in order to travel to Rhages to collect a debt before the old man’s demise;
  3. Tobias and the angel en route to Rhages – our panel;
  4. Tobias at the bank of the Tigris river catching the giant fish which has attacked him. The Angel informs him that certain innards of the fish will be useful and in particular, that the intestines or gall bladder will cure his father’s blindness;
  5. Tobias applying the piscine entrails to his father’s eyes;
  6. The Archangel, after having revealed himself, taking leave of the house of Tobias after the cure;
  7. Tobias meeting or betrothing Sara, she of many husbands;
  8. Tobias and Sara in prayer.

Because of the Tobias-Sara connection, these tapestry sets were popular in Europe in the upper classes as marriage gifts from the 16th century onwards. A six piece set, late 17th century of either Brussels or Dutch origin covered the walls of the Stadtholder of Friesland in his mansion in Leeuwarden.

Although the series was often a marriage present, there are a few sets surviving, Gobel (Wandteppichie, v.I) and Tapestry in the Baroque MMA 2008), do not illustrate or mention specific Flemish Tobias story series or panels.

Condition: although slightly reduced and rebordered, this piece is not a fragment of a much larger panel. There is some rewefting in the wool areas and a few small reweaves. The overall condition is good with strong colors across the entire palette, the reds and yellows have held up well. The silk areas which have been replaced are discreet and not light or “hot” as is the case with many injudicious restorations.

In general, the tapestry is very attractive with large, lively figures and clear colors, it is extremely decorative in the best sense.



Antique Carpets of China: NingXia

The Western Chinese province of NingXia has a mostly Muslim population and is the source of many of the oldest Chinese carpets of the modern era (Ming Dynasty and later).


The designs are typically Chinese: fretwork or Greek key borders, paeony palmettes, bats, butterflies, Fu Dogs, clouds, dragons, shou symbols, etc.  Pillar carpets designed to wrap around monastery columns and displaying a dragon above waves are a specialty.

The weave is course and soft, with several wefts between knot rows, and a longish pile.  Yellow golds, dark and light blues are common colors.  The outermost plain border on pre-1800 examples is a corrosive brown.  Formats include large square “throne” carpets, parallel meditation runners, chair seats, and scalloped backs.

to view these rugs on our website, please use the following links:






#19160 Besserabian Kilim: circa 1850

Rug #19160

Rug Type: Besserabian – Kilim

Origin: Russia

Size: 7’5″ x 10’5″

circa: 1850

material: wool

The Present Besserabian Kilim is a published piece and can be seen in “European and American Carpets and Rugs” by Cornelia Bateman Faraday.  Originally published in 1929 by the Dean-Hicks Company – Decorative Arts Press, the book was later re-published by the Antique Collectors’ Club.  The published kilim (seen below) Cornelia points out, is “very close in style to the Savonnerie and Aubusson originals which were the inspirations for extensive Besserabian weaving industry in the 19th century, and industry geared principally to satisfy the ever increasing demand of the Russian bourgeoisie for French style furnishings.  This is a particularly sophisticated example of the type which in turn was copied with varying degrees of sucess by village and peasant weavers in Azerbaijain throughout the 19th century, where the pattern became known as the gul farangi (‘foreign flower’).”

Though much of what we know about carpets and kilims has evolved over time, and may not have been known to Mrs. Faraday, much (if not most) of the information she provides in this book remains pertinent today.

Cornelia’s 1929 original preface:

“After many years of careful study, and wide experience with the individual characteristics of European and American rug fabrics, the author ventures to put for this book, with the hope that it may be interesting and useful.  The process of assembling the rugs and carpets of Europe and America into one volume has seemed much like gathering a huge bouquet, where each blossom is not only lovely in itself but also enhances the beauty of all the others.

The author is deeply grateful for the authoritative information and valuable assistance so cordially offered and wishes especially to acknowledge indebtedness and extend thanks to (see images for full preface, only lines pertinent to this rug have been included below):


Mr. Forzen Olrik, Director of the Dansk Folkmuseum, Copenhagen; the Director of the Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo; and Miss Emelie Von Walterstorff of the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, for assistance on rugs of the Northern Countries.

Mr. Claudius Filasiewicz, Director of the Industrial High School in Lwow, for important information and illustrations from Poland.

Also to that best of friends, her mother, whose constant and helpful encouragement are woven into the pages of this book, and to her hosts of other friends who have helped along the way.”

New York City                                                                              C.B.F.

July 27, 1929

To view this kilim on our website, please use the following link:



#21100 French Tapestry

Rug # 21100

Tapestry, probably Beauvais, France

7’0” x 7’8”

Probably second half of the 19th century

In the style of Francois Boucher (mid 18th century)



Structure and Materials:

Warp: wool, natural, tan, Z-3-S, 19-20/in

Weft:    wool, Z-2-S, 50-60/in

silk, Z-2-S, 50-100/in


The present panel depicts a scene from classical mythology, but a full identification is not yet possible.  In a mountainous, wooded landscape a herdsman plays a flute beneath a tree on a hillock, all to the right.  A lyre rests at his feet and a shepherd’s crook lies in his lap.  At the upper right, Mercury (Hermes) flies in clutching a quiver and bow.  Behind the tree at far right are several cows.  A youthful, winged figure, almost certainly Cupid (Eros) listens raptly to the music.  Three maidens in dancing poses approach from the left up a slope.  The image is closed on the left by a full, leafy tree and floral garlands hang from trees on both sides.   There are still lifes of fruit in the foreground as well as naturalistically depicted flowering plants.

The subject of the tapestry hinges on the identity of the piping figure.  The lyre would indicate Apollo, but since it has been discarded in favor of the flute, the identification is less likely.




What Beauvais  series this is not from is easier to determine.  It is not a part of either The Loves of the Gods (Amour, des Dieux) nor Scenes from Operas, both executed at Beauvais from 1750 onward.  The former series has much larger (up to 14’0” x 17’0”) panels and more complex iconography.  The latter series of only four subjects is not comparable in subject matter.  The style is certainly derivative of Boucher, but the rendering seems less assured and more generic.  It is not the work of Gobelins: there is a Loves of the Gods series from that manufactory, but neither the large panels nor the subsidiary sections, executed from 1757 onwards, are in any way similar to the present piece even though a few share subject matter with the contemporary Beauvais ensemble.

We are left with two possibilities: first that this panel is part of a larger, untraced mid 18th century tapestry, itself likely part of a series, of Beauvais origin.  Less likely since all the action is directed toward and converges near the Cupid figure.  Secondly, that it is a 19th century quasi pastiche of Boucheresque themes and depictions.  The relatively small size (see below), a feature of 19th century production, may militate in this direction.  The date, then, could well be in the 2nd half of the 19th century.  The standard work on Beauvais weaving (Jules Badini Le Manufacture des Tapisserie de Beauvais, 1909, Paris) does not discuss 19th century production in any detail and is, in any case, out-of-date.  No such piece appears in major museum catalogues.


Originally there was a faux giltwood picture frame border about 6”-8” wide, giving and overall size of 8’0”-8’4” x 8’8”-9’0”.  It has been slightly framed all around, especially on the right.  A plain woven two tone brown selvage has been added.

There are areas of wear and powdering in the silk; minor splitting, and creases.  The colors are slightly faded, but the red of the piping figure has held up well.  The distant landscape is quite pastel.

To view this tapestry on our website, please use the following link: