Grand Reveal

Christie’s London is offering three exceptional Kirman Vase carpets, unseen in public for over 100 years and never before published, in its ORIENTAL RUGS AND CARPETS auction on April 19. These carpets formed part of the collection of one of Europe’s most illustrious families, the Rothschild, renowned for collecting some of the world’s most important works of art.

No documentation has survived when these three exceptional carpets joined the Rothschild collection but it is known that Ferdinand upon his death in 1898 bequeathed Waddesdon Manor and its content to Alice Rothschild, who merged at this point her own collection kept at Eythrope with the one from her brother to form one unified collection. At her death in 1922 the entire collection and estate went to her nephew James Rothschild (1878-1957) and by decent the carpets remained close to the family.

Each of the three carpets are very different from the other in design and size and they provide a fascinating opportunity to view side by side the very best of Kirmani weaving, spanning a hundred years from the end of the 16th to the end of the 17th century. The top lot of the three Kirman Vase carpets is lot 101, a late 17th century Southeast Persian example (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000). It is the smallest in size but it is the only one of the three to have its complete filed and border and is undoubtedly in the best condition.

“This carpet provides further evidence to support the theory that the wavers of Kirman in the 17th century were the most inventive and influential carpet designers in the history of the Persian carpet making. Its design is a wonderful synthesis and distillation of some of the earlier Vase designs into something that has the lightness of touch, and clarity of space formed through a profound understanding of the arrangement of colour”, commented Louise Broadhurst, Christie’s Head of Oriental Rugs & Carpets department.