Large Pattern Holbien Carpets

These carpets display a simple pattern consisting of large squares with octagon fillings arranged in superimposed rows over the whole field. There may be two or four squares throughout the length of the carpet. This type of carpet, which develops throughout the 15th century, derives from the animal-figured carpets of Anatolia and the carpets with geometric patterns illustrated in 14th century painting gs. The large squares are all equal in size, and are surrounded by a frame of geometric or plant motifs. The interlacing Kufic border to be seen in the earlier examples is very typical. The corners of the large squares enclosing octagons, stars and geometric plant motifs, which constitute the basic pattern, are embellished with hooked train gular fillings. This type of carpet was well known in Europe before the time of Holbein. Such carpets are to be seen in Italian, Spanish, French and English paintings from 1460 to 1550, and display a much greater variety of modification and development than is to be found in the other two small-pattern types of carpet. Examples of these large-pattern Type III Holbein carpets are to be seen depicted in Marco Constanzo's painting of "St Gerolamo" in the Cathedral of Syracuse dated 1468, and the painting of St Sebastian by Antonella da Messina in the Dresden Gallery, dated 1476. The same type of carpet with four large squares is to be seen depicted in painting of the Madonna dated 1526 formerly in Dresden, and in a portrait of Meyer, the Mayor of Basel, and his family. This type of carpet was very well known in Spain and imitations were made in the various carpet manufacturing centers in the southern part of that country towards the end of the 15th century.

Among the rare examples to be found in the Vakıflar Carpet Museum, Istanbul is a carpet with a single large square and a hooked octagon in the center, displaying a pattern of stylized palmettos and plant fillings. The border has a cartouche pattern. This carpet may be dated to the beginning of the 17th century. Another carpet in the same museum, this time from the end of the 17th century, has eight-armed motifs set within large squares and borders with Chinese cloud bands. A rather late carpet showing a continuation of the traditional pattern with bright, vivid colors, also to be found in this museum, may be dated to the middle of the 18th century. The two magnificent carpets in the Berlin Museum with superimposed rows of three and four squares are very rare examples, one of which dates from the beginning, and the other from the middle of the 16th century. The first of these measures 4.30x2.00 m, and has all the distinctive features of a traditional carpet, with a pseudo-Kufic border and four large squares arranged in a vertical row on a red ground. A forerunner of this type is to be seen in the carpet hanging ostentatiously from a balcony just to the left of the peacock in the painting in” the National Gallery, London by Carlo Crivelli, who preceded Holbein in depicting carpets of this type . Another rather unusual example of the same type of carpet with a Kufic border and octagons arranged in the shape of a star is to be seen spread out under the throne of the Virgin Mary in a painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. The same type of carpet is to be seen used as a table cover in the portrait of Domenico Morone by Andrea Solario in the Galleria Brera , Milan. The carpets hanging from the gondola in the famous series of paintings illustrating the legend of St Ursula painted by Carpaccio towards the end of the century (dated 1495) may be classified as belonging to this same type, while similar carpets can be seen hanging in Venetian fashion from the window and balcony in a painting by Mansuetti hanging alongside it in the Accademia, Venice.

 A typical example of a "Holbein" carpet can be seen spread out over the table in the painting, "The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Younger dated 1533 to be found in the National Gallery, London. A similar type of carpet is shown hanging ina painting of “St Sebastian" by Antonello da Messina (1430-1479) Another carpet from the end of the 15th century can be seen in a fresco by V. Foppa dated 1485 in the Galleria Brera, Milan. The Type III Holbein carpet hanging from the balustrade in front of the Madonna with the Christ Child in her arms displays an interlacing Kufic border indicative of an early period (Pl. 68). Another Holbein Type III carpet with a Kufic border is depicted in a French miniature of ca. 1460. In a miniature in the "Livre du cuer d'amour espris" of Duc Rene d’Anjou, an early Holbein carpet is to be seen spread out in front of the bed, while in front of the divan on the left there is another 15th century carpet with Memling or Turkmen gül motifs and stepped hooked octagons A large-pattern Holbein carpet is depicted spread out on the floor in a picture of the Rites of St Giles (ca. 1500) by an unknown hand. Here octagon filling motifs are repeated twice within the large squares Carpets of this type are to be found depicted in miniatures as well as in Western painting gs. This type of carpet with a Kufic border indicating the second half of the 15th century and three large octagons placed one above the other is to be seen spread out under the throne in a Kelile Dimne manuscript in the Millet Library ,Cairo (Ill. 29). A large-pattern type III Holbein carpet is to be seen in a miniature dating from the second half of the 14th century in a Kelile Dimne manuscript of H 743 (1343-1344) in the Egyptian National Library. The carpet has a Kufic border and a very clearly distinguishable octagon motif with a white geometric filling (Ill. 29a).

In a French miniature of 1460 made for King Rene d'Anjou (National Library, Vienna), the same pattern is to be seen in the carpet on which a male figure is standing. The carpet spread out under the bed belongs to the large-pattern Type III Holbein group, and is subsequently to be seen depicted in a number of paintings by Memling. The original of this type of carpet was discovered in two fragments measuring 62x93 cm and 107x93 cm in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest. This carpet displays an unusual form of the Type I Holbein carpet pattern divided into squares with small motifs. Here the square sections enclose rows of lozenges with red, stepped and hooked contours on a yellow ground, and a border pattern to be seen later in Bergama carpets. This carpet is to be dated to the end of the 15th century, and a similar example in the Mevlana Museum, Konya in the form of a small fragment with the same pattern and a border of pseudo-Kufic must belong to around the same date. This motif is to be found repeated in later Bergama and Caucasian carpets, and a carpet in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul would appear to constitute a very late continuation. The Memling gül, which takes the form of stepped octagons embellished with hooks, continued to be employed in the Caucasian carpets of the 19th century. These carpets also include a number of prayer rugs. Carpets displaying this motif, which is also known as a Turkmen gül, are woven even today by the Yörüks, and are to be found throughout Anatolia.

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