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Details & Cataloguing

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

|
London

Spain, possibly Alcaraz
CARPET
wool, flatweave
approximately 237 by 179cm., 7ft 9in by 5ft 11in.
first half 17th century
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Catalogue Note

'The poet James Fenton recalls Hodgkin’s agitation when he spotted a rare 17th-century Alcaraz flat weave carpet folded up amid a pile in a shop window in Biarritz — he could only have seen two or three inches of it — and wordlessly tried to draw Peattie’s attention to it by frantic eye movement alone.' Moore. S., 'Howard Hodgkin — painter, gatherer', Financial Times (Online), 8 September 2017. 

Carpet weaving came to Spain with the Islamic invaders sometime between the 8th to the late 15th century. After the Christian conquest, in 1492, weaving continued to develop with changing tastes and new designs flourished. Silk brocade production developed in Italy and the technique soon spread and ton-sur-ton, with bold, expansive patterns, began to appear in Spain - believed to have originated in Alcaraz. A 16th century example of such a silk is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, accession number 22.165, and the present carpet appears to have derived from such a design. This silk bears pairs of armorial style birds within the lozenge motifs - Armorial was another of the thee main Spanish carpet designs, the other Anatolian inspired. These have become more stylised within the present carpet suggesting a slightly later date.

It is interesting that the present work is flatwoven; most comparable examples, by design, are pile woven carpets. For example the carpet fragment cited by Friedrich Spuhler in Oriental Carpets in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, London, 1988, pp. 122 & 284, pl. 145. This example shares similar tracery and lozenge motifs; however it is the earlier silk production to which the present work seems more akin. In Bunt. C., Spanish Silks, England, 1965, fig. 23, the 14th century silk damask pictured shows a similar star lozenge motif within the ton-sur-ton trellis, which is repeated in the border of the offered lot.

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

|
London