180
180
Mughal India, Lahore
'ANIMAL AND PALMETTE' CARPET FRAGMENT
JUMP TO LOT
180
Mughal India, Lahore
'ANIMAL AND PALMETTE' CARPET FRAGMENT
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

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London

Mughal India, Lahore
'ANIMAL AND PALMETTE' CARPET FRAGMENT
wool, pile
mounted: 143 by 98cm; 4ft 8in by 3ft 3in; textile approximately 142 by 97cm; 4ft 8in by 3ft 2in.
first quarter 17th century
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Catalogue Note

Under the influence of the Safavid animal hunting carpets, a particular style developed in India at the beginning of the 17th century. During the reign of the Mughal emperor, Akbar (r.1556-1605) carpet production was essentially a court undertaking, and the quality, size, design and value of the Mughal carpet was dependent on the tastes and demands of the court. Akbar’s son, Jahangir and his grandson Shah Jahan continued to collect and patronise the arts, and Shah Jahan in 1628 introduced court decoration based on the European ‘herbaria’ for which he had enthusiasm and it was combined with the ancient theme of the Garden of Paradise. With the change in trading emphasis from Persia, many Indian carpets were exported to Europe, for example through the Dutch and the British East Indies Company, and were individual commissions or diplomatic gifts. There are a few authenticated exceptions, otherwise attributions to one of the weaving centres of Lahore, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri  or Jaipur are not always certain. There is an animal carpet with the Indo-Persian vine-scroll, palmette and animal design, against the red ground and with a deep green palmette border, dated to 1639-44, with the coat-of arms of William Fremlin, Lahore or possibly Agra (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The Indian ‘animal’ compositions are often chasing and fighting animals, without medallions or spandrels, and are woven in wool, with cotton warps and wefts. They were inspired by the Persian, ‘Paradise’ and ‘Hunting’ carpets, as well as woven textiles. A celebrated 16th century Persian carpet of inspiration is the 'Sanguszko’, Kirman carpet, now in the Miho Museum, Japan (see Pope, A.U. A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1939, pl.1206), and a Safavid carpet, 16th century, East Persia, without a lobed medallion was sold Sotheby’s, New York, Collections of Lily and Edmond J Safra, 3 November 2005, lot 160, which has trees, animals and birds.      

There is a group of ‘animal and palmette’ carpets which scholarship has attributed to Lahore, (then North India, now Pakistan). They show animals, palmettes and vine-scroll, arranged asymmetrically in an ascending format against red ground. A characteristic feature of Indian carpet design, sometimes found in earlier central Iran (Khorassani) weavings, is the use of ton-sur-ton colour combinations, which is the use of shades of the same colour juxtaposed against each other, without demarcation colours, as seen in the present fragment, in the use of pink/red floral motifs against the red ground. The border types vary for these carpets. 

For a directly comparable complete Mughal ‘animal and palmette carpet’ (358 by 160cm), North India, probably Lahore, Jahangir period (1605-1627), see Sotheby’s, New York, Carpets from the Estate of Vojtech Blau, 14 December 2006, lot 54. The field shows a very similar arrangement of small animals amongst larger palmettes and flowers, and distinctive use of white raceme motifs.

For another similar comparable complete Mughal animal carpet, North India, Lahore, first half 17th century, (473 by 200cm), see Spuhler, Friedrich, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Carpets and Textiles, London, 1988, Chp. 5, Mughal Carpets, No.46, pp.178-181, from various prominent previous collections, including the present, and originally considered to possibly have been an Indian royal carpet. The composition depicts both chasing and animal combat motifs, small green leaves on tendrils and the elongated lancet leaves, pink and red ton-sur-ton, and a border with arabesques and further fighting animals.

For a comparison for the delicate palmette border on the offered fragment, see an example of a particularly beautiful Mughal Indian carpet, 16/17th century (768 by 298cm), which in the main field design incorporates the vine-scrolls, palmettes, elongated leaves and animals against a pale ivory coloured ground, with similarly elegant drawing, illustrated and discussed in Geknüpfte Kunst Teppiche des Museums für Islamische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin,  2011, Indische Teppiche, pp. 191-197, Cat.45, pp.145-197 (Inv.Nr. 1. 6/74).  

For comprehensive discussion of this group of carpets and fragments, see Walker, Daniel, Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997, Chp. 4, The Carpets, Persian Style, pp.29-85, ‘Scrolling vine and animal pattern’, pp.45-57, fig. 41 (cat.no. 7a) for vertical fragments including a section of the lower border of the same design (Textile Museum, Washington Museum of Art, DC – Inv.R63.002), together with fig. 43 (cat.no. 7b) and fig. 44 (cat.no. 7c): Collection Howard Hodgkin, London, for illustrations of the fragments offered in this sale, lots 180 & 191. In addition Walker, op.cit. fig.42, illustrates a schematic reconstruction of a pattern of the scrolling vine and animal carpet fragments of cited figs. 41, 42 and 43. The Textile museum example comprised of two fragments has a section where a leaping animal has been cut in half  and can therefore be placed together to create the repeat. In the fragment offered in this sale as lot 180, there is a similar section of leaping cheetah with back legs and tail and although it does not fit with the Textile Museum example, it does confirm the same design and together with other fragments from the various fragments of the field and border and that exist, some of which have been joined, including lot 180 in this sale (with pieced field but with border that is original to the field), the overall repeats within the design can be confirmed (to up to four repeats and one pattern unit in width; resulting in a long and narrow carpet; and possibly a pair).  Fragment, lot 191 in this sale, in relation to the schematic produced could be further up the design, than lot 180 in this sale. Other fragments recorded include: two in a Private Collection, Paris; one in the Wher Collection, Switzerland (Inv.no. 14685), the Brooklyn Museum, New York (Inv.no. 45.66.4); two in the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmadabad (Inv.no. 2733 & 2762) and five fragments in the Jaipur Collection, Campbell (nos. 98, 106, 107, 111, 112 & 113).

There is a interesting comparable carpet which in addition to motifs seen on the fragments in this sale (lot 180 & 191), includes exuberant simurgh birds, in a different border type, attributed to North Indian, Lahore, circa 1610-20 (197 by 137cm) in the Toyama Memorial Museum, Saitama, Japan (provenance: from Mr Kawakatsu Kenichi 4 April 1969; who had acquired it in 1934 from an auction at the Kyoto Art Club, by repute from a Kyoto merchant house), illustrated ibid. fig. 47 (cat.no. 9), p.54.

For two comparable animal carpet border fragments, India, second quarter 17th century, in the Keir Collection, one of which is a side border fragment with the animals running towards the top, and the other is of vertical design with a wading bird and section of narrow inner guard (T33), see Islamic Art in the Keir Collection, ed. Robinson, Skelton, Spuhler, Fehérvári Oliver Watson and Pinder Wilson, London, 1988, Spuhler, Friedrich, ‘Carpets and Textiles’, pp.49-106, T32 & T33, pp.84-85. 

Another comparable to consider, especially in relation to lot 156 in this sale, is the ‘Sackville Landscape’ Mughal carpet, late 16th/early 17th century, which incorporates blossoming trees and birds along with chasing and fighting animals (833 by 289cm), in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917: No.17.190.858. For an example of a ‘Landscape and bird carpet’, without animals, North India, Lahore, circa 1600 (233 by 158cm), which shows similarities in the use of the blossoming tree in the fragment lot 156, which also has animals, see Völker, Angela, Die orientalischen knüpfteppiche im MAK (Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Wien), Wien, 2001, Indische Teppiche, Kat.Nr.116, pp.316-319, (Inv.Nr. Or 292/1889/1907 HM Nr. 13421). For further general discussion of Indian floral carpets, see Prakash Verma, Som, Flora and Fauna in Mughal Art, Das, Syamali, Flora and Fauna in Mughal Carpets, pp.133-148. 

See lots 156 & 191 for other Mughal animal carpet fragments.

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

|
London