Tag: style

Antique English Square Needlepoint Carpet

Needlepoint Carpet,size 15’0″ x 15’10”

French and English Victorian period needlework carpets are quite similar in both technique and in the repeating circle and square patterns, but English rugs are more often in light tones, as here, with seven rows and seven columns on an ivory ground. A square foliate/floriate lattice encloses several varieties of verdant bouquets, each of which is encircled by a laurel wreath. Roses are prominent among the seasonal English garden flowers in the bouquets. Smaller bouquets, in two alternating styles, are positioned at the crossing points of the lattice. There is no border beyond the lattice line. Each row of bouquets mixes several styles, giving a sense of variety. No two similar bouquets directly repeat either vertically or horizontally. Some bouquets are rotated 180 degrees. The colors of each bouquet type remain invariant throughout the carpet. Modular, repeating designs were popular in antique Victorian needlework carpets, and this allowed variations in size and format to be easily accommodated. Similarly, borders could mix and match with different field patterns.  Carpets were often the work of several embroiderers, each working on a separate square. The squares were subsequently joined and the joints covered by further stitchery.

By the late 19th century, the saturated, dense tonalities of European needlework carpets were beginning to give way to lighter palettes, and this is especially evident in antique English needlework carpets.

Carpet 40-3796 has been lined and is in good condition.


#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.

Rugs of the Week

Chinese Art Deco Minimalism

Today, minimalism reigns in much of the decorative carpet world. No borders, no traditional patterns, no classic design protocols. It is all so new, or is it? You might be surprised to discover that border less carpets, with minimal or even no patterns, in monochrome colors, were a considerable design thing in America in the 1930’s. The Great Depression affected domestic carpet demand. A flood of Persian goods shouldered aside the dominant Chinese carpets in the 1930’s and exports plummeted. Prices fell and manufacturers’ cost had to be reined in. This meant less design and faster weaving times, reducing labor costs. The trend from jazzy 1920’s Art Deco to more hard edged, more graphic 1930’s Art Deco can be seen in carpets from both European and Chinese sources.

Nichols was the leading, most stylish of the American firms in Tientsin, and most attuned to decorative trends. This group of progressively more minimalist Nichols antique Chinese Art Deco carpets is the result. One of the first things is to eliminate the borders, producing a uniform single allover tonality. On this is laid an asymmetric, two corner pattern.  In our number 20288 (11’9″x 8’10”, 1920), the saturated navy ground is open except for two mountain “coins” in one corner and one diagonally across. These are most subtly embedded in tone-on-tone striated segments. The rich midnight ground does the talking here, a minimalism with a real presence.


Minimalism does not have to mean self effacing. Orange-pink, never found in nature,  gives a real punch to our 22091 (12’0″x9’0″, c. 1920) with bamboo fret and writhing dragon  diagonally opposed in the corners. The same tonality appears in number 22131 (15’10″x12’0″, early 1900) which is totally without any pattern, no secondary colors. This is as minimalist as you can get, except the tonality is not. Today, minimalist means taupe, tan, beige, ivory, straw or some other non-color, totally inoffensive, total ignorable. You just can’t ignore Deco Chinese minimalist carpets.


Almost as restrained in pattern is our royal blue carpet number 22616 (13’2″x10’0″, early 1930) with a design wholly delineated by carving alone. The color is magnificent and the subtle pattern makes the viewer’s eye work a bit, which should happen when appreciating a work of art. A close-up picture gives an idea of the subtle style of this piece.


Finally, two carpets with the same open fields, and geometric bud and rectangle opposite corners are number 20997 (11’4″x8’8″ c. 1930, royal blue) and 21781 (11’3″x8’6″, c. 1930, cardinal red) are wholly in the 30’s style, sharply drawn with a pars-pro-toot rendering of floral ornament. The corners cannot be ignored, but the almost minimalist fields easily dominate.



What these and other “minimalist” antique Art Deco Chinese carpets have in common are strong, saturated tonalities, superb physical texture and real personalities. Nothing wishy washy or non-committal about them. They have a commanding  presence. Thus minimal need not be synonymous with invisible or ignorable. They worked with Art Deco furniture, the first Western unornamented furnishing style and they will work with whatever you throw at them!.

Rugs of the Week (Akstafa,Shirvan)

Two Very Interesting Caucasian Long Rugs.



Our Caucasian Blog only briefly sketched the range of types from this mountainous region of a thousand languages and ethnicity. Here are a couple a particularly interesting pieces that help to expand on our remarks.

Good things do not last at Rahmanan! Somebody else may be interested in these rugs, but you still have a chance. Anyway, you can still see why attention should be paid. Consider the Akstafa. Our Caucasian Rug blog of last week did not mention Akstafa as a distinct type. Indeed, nobody did until the 1980’s.Located and regular between  Gendje and  Shirvan,  this highly individual weaving district seems to have almost exclusively specialized in just two rug types: a long rug, as here, with pairs of peacocks around eight-point medallions, on navy or brown-black fields, with a close scatter of smaller geometric devices. The more variety in these elements, the better the rug. Since our example has a particularly dense fill, it must be, and is very good. A true work of folk art. The other Akstafa design appears on prayer design rugs of smaller format and is usually an allover boteh (paisley) pattern. Both types employ the same ivory border with hooked squares. Akstafa seems not to have woven scatter rugs. Do not cut these artistically intriguing long rugs to make scatters!.

Rug no. 21711 (3.8 by 11.0) is a particularly fine example from a rare group of mid-19th century Shirvan long rugs, almost always with radiant blue, more or less open, grounds. A few simple geometric devices scarcely interrupt the open window character of the long royal blue ground. One can virtually step through it, into…….This rug is the aesthetic antithesis of the Akstafa, saying a lot with very little. Minimalist modern art has nothing  on this piece.Neither rug is more valid, more beautiful than the other. This Shirvan long  rug, one of a select group of no more than a few dozen known examples, employs, as almost all the others do, a poly chrome border of triangles, the so-called ‘Dragon’ pattern, which to our eyes looks more like a parade of wedgie shoes! So call it the colorful wedgie shoe border. Several examples of this select group are dated before 1850, and no. 19711 may be significantly older than our ultra-conservative attribution. The weave is neat, even  and regular

Are these rugs collectible? If you want to hang them vertically,then better have a mansion or country estate with tall ceilings, or you can roll them out for carpet aficionados to drool over. Or you can just treat them right and live with them and love them. What’s not to like?

Details of rugs.





#40-1150 Silvia Heyden Tapestry: circa 1965

Rug #40-1150, size 7’7″ x 4’3″

Origin: America

Type: Tapestry

Size: 4’3″ x 7’7″

Construction: High warp linen tapestry

Circa: 1965

Silvia Heyden, born Silvia Stucky, in Basel Switzerland in 1927, studied at the School of Arts in Zürich from 1948-1953 .  After her marriage to Dr Siegfried Heyden in 1954, Silvia spent the following years with her children in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Berlin.

Her first tapestry loom was purchased in 1964 for a large commission for the Expo-Suisse in Lausanne, Switzerland.  The family moved to Durham, NC when Siegfried received a new position at the Duke University Medical Center in 1966.  This move would lead to her first major exhibit at the Duke University of Art Museum, in Durham in 1972.

From 1974-1992 Heyden took part in numerous large exhibits and worked on commissions in the US and Europe.  This particular piece was made in America, the label seen below (included with this tapestry), indicates the hometown of the designer.


Rug of the Week

Antique American Hooked Rug.

American hooked rug #17201, size 7’6″ x 7’0″

Everything, at least as far a decorative new carpets are concerned, is looking pretty abstract. A brief glance at interior design and floor covering magazines gives one a strong sense of what is out there: asymmetrical, border less, shaded or bold, but no outlines, nothing representational or traditional, totally abstract, just like the wall candy paintings. This must be something innovative. Carpets never looked that way before.

Or did they?

Carpets that resemble abstract, non-figural paintings have been around since the 1920’s, just not “Oriental” ones. A select group of American hooked rugs are squarely in the abstract style. When one thinks of antique American hooked rugs, whether fabric or yarn, kitschy, folky, rustic depictions come strongly to mind: dogs, farmhouses, vases of flowers, and so on. We have plenty of these; just peruse our inventory and you can get your domestic Americana itch scratched.

But Klimt? Carpet number 17201 (7.0 by 7.6, c. 1920) is totally abstract, but has a style redolent of the early 20th century Viennese master, not to mention other artists of the period. The swirling, vibrating circle-in-square corner pieces may remind one of Van Gogh’s vibrating suns or Munch’s sky pattern in “The Scream”. But the real excitement is in the random array of colorful squares and rectangles densely filling the field. Make them round and you get Klimt’s coruscating backgrounds in his pre-1914 portraits. Exactly. Where Klimt used gold, the anonymous hooked rug artist employed yellow, but the effect is similar: a mobile effect, shimmering, with colors coming forwards and receding, the eye kept moving, but never tiring. Klimt’s pictures have figuration, representations cores or essential elements, whereas this carpet is wholly formalized.

But you can’t (or won’t) hang this antique American hooked carpet on the wall. Or can you?  The small, square size is perfect for the wall. And what a focus of the room it would be! Don’t forget, a hooked rug is lighter, area for area, than an oriental, and hanging small ones is one way to display a collection. Larger abstract fabric hooked carpets, e.g., our number 17461 (10’2 X 9’2″ c. 1920) and number 19942 (12’4″ X 9’0″9.0 c.1920) are best displayed on the floor with furniture, no matter how contemporary, properly deferential. The absence of borders in all three pieces makes then ultra-up-to-date. One on the wall, another on the floor. Wow! A collection just got started.

American Hooked rug #17461, size 10’2″ x 9’2″
American hooked rug #19942, size 12’4″ x 9’0″

New England Collections makes contemporary hooked rugs in repeating, allover or modular patterns, but custom orders are entertained and copies (that slippery word), or creative interpretations, can be made of any piece in our vast collection of antique American hooked rugs or from a photo or drawing.


Rug of the Week: Sultanabad 21242

A Sultanabad Carpet that is truly wild and uninhibited. Style trends come. Style trends go. Great, individual art is forever. Art is not something that has to be hung on a wall and intently or idly contemplated. Sometimes it turns up elsewhere and it is no less creative because of it. Great art happens and it is up to us to appreciate it. Some rugs are great art, some are barely acceptable craft.

The Persian carpet revival began in the 1870’s and in the 1880’s the English firm of Ziegler established a substantial presence in and around the town of Sultanabad in Arak province in western Iran. Although a comprehensive firm in its provision of dyed yarn, other materials, designs and cash orders to a vast network of local village weavers, it never organized fixed workshops. Every Ziegler is a folk art production, some more regimented than others. Sometimes something truly exceptional comes through and this is one.

No cartoon, no design sampler here, just the work of a handful of true artists. The wild, eccentric design has no obvious center among the red and ivory escutcheon palmettes, or among the middle blue vertical pendanted cartouches. Everything tilts to one side, but not vertigo-inducing, just enough to give a sense of irregular motion. There is nothing like it in the vast corpus of published Ziegler Sultanabad carpets of the 1882-1930 period. There is nothing like it among Persian carpets period.

The rare yellow border takes as its pattern slices of the allover Herati field pattern omnipresent in Persian rugs, but here much less compact and structured, more crazy and informal. The jogs in the minor guard stripes indicate the “lazy lines” indicative of weaver changes and one day’s work. Who directed the artisans, or did they work on their own? Was eccentricity catching?

Although of carpet size (10.8 by 13.3) our Sultanabad occupies a firm place in the pantheon of true art, not just “carpet art”. Virtually all art is to some degree commercial. The question is not what is the art form, or what are the materials, or what is the originating culture or artist, or how old it is, but only how good it is. This carpet answers that question most admirably.

Sultanabad rug #21242, size 13’3″ x 10’8″