Details & Cataloguing

Rugs and Carpets


A Central Persian gallery carpet, probably Isphahan
with a cotton strip stitched to the underside with 'MAIN HALL / ISPAHAN - 324x120' written in ink.
approximately 1006 by 363cm; 33ft., 11ft. 11in.
second half 17th century
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Possibly with King Joao IV of Portugal second half 17th century;
American Art Association, New York, The V. and L. Benguiat Private Collection, 4-5 December 1925, either lot 72 or 73;
With Mrs Edsel B. Ford, Detroit, by 1972;
Christie's London, April 22, 1999, lot 101.


Hallett. J., Carpets and Textiles of the Iranian World 1400 – 1700, London, 2010, pp. 112 & 122. 
Hali, July/August, 1999, Issue 105, p. 144.
Spuhler. F., The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, p. 106. 
Beattie. M., The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection of Oriental Rugs, Lugano-Castagnola, 1972, pp. 47 - 48.

Catalogue Note

The Braganza carpets are rumoured to have been made for the Duke of Braganza’s accession to the throne of Portugal in 1640, said to have ’greatly impressed his guests’ at the coronation, Spuhler, op.cit, p. 106.

Through the trade port of Ormuz the Portuguese had a rich history with Persia and a number of grand carpets were exchanged as gifts. Jessica Hallett remarks ‘Distance and height were essential factors in staging Portuguese royal space, and on official occasions the monarch was enthroned under a richly decorated dossal … Islamic carpets covering the dais.’, Hallett, op.cit, p. 91. However Hallett also expands on May Beattie’s statement that the carpets were said to be with the Braganza by the 17th century in their Lisbon palace, but not necessarily by the time of the coronation, Hallett, ibid, pp. 112 & 122. This theory further elaborated on in the ‘Marketplace’ Hali, July/August 1999, issue 105, p. 144. Hallett further suggests that due to the likely date of making, palace descriptions and inventories the carpets might have been a purchased during the reign of King Alfonso V (1656 – 1683), but does not dispute the Royal provenance, Hallett, op cit, p. 115.

For a carpet which shares similar scale, colour tone and palmette design within the field see the carpet formerly owned by the Duke of Lafões, sold Sotheby’s New York, 5 June 2013, lot 19. Like the Braganza pair it was also bought by Vitall Benguiat. What marks the Braganza pair as highly unusual is the small lozenge medallion, it is a trait more associated with the silk and metal-thread so called ‘Polonaise’ weaves. The pair were sold by the renowned dealers Vitall and Leopold Benguiat in 1925, New York, lots 72 and 73, see Towner. W., ‘The Pasha and the Magic carpets Part 2’, Hali, Spring 1980, vol. 3, no. 1, p. 16. Hallett classifies the pair as from group four from her individual categorisation of these 17th century courtly weaves, this due to their tile layout within the field, Hallett, op.cit, p. 114.

Rugs and Carpets