In our upcoming auction Robert Kime: The Personal Collection, we are delighted to present a selection of important rugs from the private collection of the late Robert Kime. Known the world over as a titan of design, a polymath and the ‘great assembler’ of beautiful things, his extensive collection was meticulously amassed throughout his lifetime, from his travels around the UK, Europe, the Middle East and beyond and was housed between his homes in London and Provence. A keen eye, thorough academic knowledge and a genuine passion for furniture, ceramics, Old Master paintings, Modern British art and antique textiles led Robert to become known as one of the leading design figures of his generation. The sale offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to obtain works from his very own personal collection.
“Start with a rug…Rugs give so much direction to what will happen in a room”- Robert Kime
Robert’s love of antique textiles inspired many of his design schemes and his phrase “Start with a rug…Rugs give so much direction to what will happen in a room” is evidence of the importance he placed on them and his personal penchant for them. His collection of exceptionally important rugs reflects this and amongst them are two important 16th century Ushak rugs which he displayed as artworks on the wall at his Warwick Square apartment.
© Simon Upton, The Hall of Warwick Square
An Ushak 'medallion' carpet in the collection comes from a well documented group, which typically have a red ground and a large circular medallion with recurring medallions elsewhere in the design. The example in the sale dates from the early 16th/17th century and features a design of repeating star-shaped medallions set against a background of floral vines. 'Star Ushak' carpets were highly prized, particularly amongst the European ruling elites, from the early 16th century. The design is thought to have evolved from motifs used in architectural tiles produced by Ottoman court workshops of the 15th century and it is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive and beautiful found in surviving 'classical' period Ottoman and Safavid rugs. 'Star' Ushak carpets appear in the work of many European artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, first appearing under the throne of the Venetian Doge in Paris Bordone's 1534 painting 'Fisherman Presenting a Ring to the Doge Gradenigo' (Galleria dell'Accademia, Venice). Perhaps most famously however, Henry VIII is depicted standing on a 'Star' Ushak carpet in portraits by both Hans Holbein and Hans Eworth. Surviving 'Star' carpets are rare and highly prized by museums and private collectors alike. It is therefore remarkable to see two good and complete examples in the Robert Kime collection, Lot 483 and Lot 440, which has an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.
Lot 440: An Ushak 'Star' carpet, late 16th/early 17th century | Est. £20,000-30,000 (+ fees)
Joe Robinson, Head of House Sales & Private Collections at Dreweatts, said: “Robert’s mantra about rugs is well known. A rug, he felt, provides the heart to a room and an influence for future design decisions. It is a privilege to be offering his personal collection of rugs comprising of numerous important and extremely rare examples which he discovered throughout his life and chose to live with.”
© Simon Upton, The Sitting room of Warwick Square
Other highlights include a 17th century caucasian dragon fragmentary carpet which represents the village carpet-weaving tradition of the Caucasus, (a transcontinental region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea), that was contemporaneous with court production in Ottoman Turkey and Safavid Iran. While rugs produced in Royal workshops had flowing, floral patterns, those from provincial weaving areas such as the southern Caucasus retained a strongly geometric character.
The motif of highly stylised dragons, which are depicted here, gave the name ‘Dragon Carpet’ to this type of rug which was produced in Trans-Caucasia.
The design of 'Dragon' carpets consists of a field pattern composed of pointed, serrated leaves forming intersecting lozenges, which alternately contain palmettes and dragons or stylized animal figures. The most archaic of the 'Dragon' carpets include dragon motifs, with birds and running animals relatively naturalistically drawn and either alone, or in confronting pairs facing a tree. The Graf carpet, originally found in a Damascene mosque, now in the Islamiches Museum in Berlin is thought to be the oldest example of this type. Animals in combat, and dragons less frequently, were popular motifs in late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Persian courtly carpets and it is probable that Caucasian 'Dragon' carpets were modelled on these refined prototypes. Lot 411 is a fine example in the sale which carries an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.
Lot 411: A Caucasian dragon fragmentary carpet, 17th century | Est. £20,000-30,000 (+ fees)
A 16th/17th century Egyptian Cairene rug is also included in the sale. The Ottomans conquered Mamluk Egypt in 1517 and their influence on art can be seen in the design of this rug, with its curvilinear arrangement of palmettes and vines. This example, Lot 407, carries and estimate of £2,000 - £4,000.
Lot 407: A Cairene rug, Ottoman Egypt, 16th/17th century | Est. £2,000-4,000 (+ fees)
Day 1: Wednesday 4 October 2023 | 10.30am BST | Contents from Warwick Square, London (Lots 1-399)
Day 2: Thursday 5 October 2023 | 10.30am BST | Contents from La Gonette, France (Lots 400-746)
Day 3: Friday 6 October 2023 | 10.30am BST | (Lots 747-918)
The three-day auction will take place at Dreweatts Donnington Priory salerooms.
London (highlights): Dreweatts, 16-17 Pall Mall, St James's, London SW1Y 5LU
Friday 8 - Thursday 14 September 2023
Newbury (full sale): Dreweatts, Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
Saturday 30 September - Tuesday 3 October 2023
For details on registration, viewing, bidding, payment and shipping, please see the Auction Information Page here.
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