The Opulent Eye auction, Christie’s New York,18 November 2014
On 18 November 2014, Christie’s New York will hold ‘The Opulent Eye’ sale of 19th century furniture, sculpture, works of art, ceramics, glass and carpets. There will be around 70 carpets amongst the 332 auction lots. Highlights include a striking east Anatolian rug with a large ivory central medallion outlined in hook motifs. Consigned by a mid-western collector, (HALI 123, p.93), it was exhibited at the Indianapolis ACOR in 2002. The rug seems likely to have been made in Erzurum. A carpet and a fragment with a similar composition dating to the late 18th century were found at mosques in Erzurum (see Yetkin, Early Caucasian Carpets in Turkey, London, 1978, pl.102) and Hagia Sofia (ibid. pl. 101). Both are now in the Türk ve Islam Eserleri Museum, Istanbul. Another closely related rug from a Hamburg collection was published by Ulrich Schürmann in 1979, called Armenian, 18th century (Teppiche aus dem Orient, p.193). A unique rug relating to this group with a similar medallion and pendant formation on a red herringbone ground, attributed to the same city was featured on the cover and p.392 of HALI 4/ 4, 1982, and later included in Heinrich Kirchheim’s 1993 ‘Orient Stars’ ICOC exhibition in Hamburg , and the accompanying book, together with another related carpet, the so-caled Sheikh Ali Pasha ‘Water Lily’ carpet, when both were attributed to ‘North-west persia or surrounding regions’.
From northern China is a 17th century Ningxia carpet with a traditional peony and scrolling leaf design. The previous owner, Katherine Sands Havemeyer (1871 – 1951) was a keen horticulturalist, known for her extensive gardens on the Long Island Cedar Hill estate. Her floral legacy lives on with varieties of peony, lilac and phlox ‘Katherine’ possessing her namesake.
Two carpets bearing signature inscriptions are of note. Lot 226 is a Millefleurs Kirman rug from southeast Persia, circa 1900, packed with rich blooms around a central willowy tree formation. The cartouche reads amal-e Muhammad ibn Ja’far, It is purported that Muhammad Bin Ja’far (1870-1910) was the father of Abdul Kasim Kermani, another highly regarded Kermani weaver associated with some of the finest weavings of this period. The other is a Bakhtiari ‘Khan’ carpet from west Persia dated 1904 -1905, the Farsi inscription reads ‘farmayesh-e jalalma’ab asad allah khan ‘amal-e bakhtiyari sana 1322’, which translates as ‘Order of the one of glorious rank, Asadallah Khan, Bakhtiyari work, year 1322 (1904-5 AD). Such inscriptions are a particular feature of a rare and prestigious group of late 19th and early 20th century Bakhtiari carpets, made when the tribe was in its political ascendancy in Iranian politics, but all that do tend to have white writing on a red ground as with this example. See Ian Bennett, ‘Carpets of the Khans’ (two parts), HALI 43 and HALI 44 (1989). View the full catalogue for Christie’s The Opulent Eye sale here.