Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Spot a Rug: Ottoman Carpets in Renaissance Paintings

Antique Karabagh rug design, late 18th century, Elisabethpol Governorate, Javanshir Uyezd, Azerbaijan. Doris Lieblau.

Design

Spot a Rug: Ottoman Carpets in Renaissance Paintings

Art history has always been inseparable from international trade exchanges and the mingling of nations and cultures. Manuscripts, works of art, decorative objects, jewelry, household items… They all crossed borders and always had an impact on the place of arrival (although not immediately). Today I want to show you an example of such a cultural exchange, in which Ottoman carpets found their way to Renaissance paintings!

Holbein carpet

Hans Holbein the Younger, The Merchant Georg Gisze, 1532, Oil on panel, 97.5 x 86 cm, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, ottoman carpets paintings
Ottoman Carpets in Renaissance Paintings: Hans Holbein the Younger, The Merchant Georg Gisze, 1532, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

The merchant Georg Gisze, portrayed here by the German/Swiss painter Holbein, was one of those people who imported to Europe various luxury goods from the “Orient.” For example, starting with a rug on the table, there are keys, signet-rings and a spherical container (hanging on the shelf), to a pewter writing-stand with goose-feathers, ink, sand, wax disks, and sealing-wax (on the table). Beside all this we also see a pair of scissors, a signet-ring, a seal, a small table-clock, and the fragile glass vase made of the expensive and fashionable Venetian glass. Venice was one of the Renaissance cities that connected Europe with the East. Therefore, many Venetian painters, such as Bellini or Lotto, often included various Oriental elements in their works, not only carpets.

Small-pattern ‘Holbein’ Carpet, c. 1500, Turkey, wool, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ottoman carpets in Renaissance Paintings
Small-pattern ‘Holbein’ Carpet, c. 1500, Turkey. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

However, it was not only Venetians who painted rugs. Indeed, the trend spread across Europe starting already in the 14th century. As a result of the extreme detail and realism of such paintings, it allowed scholars from the 19th century onward to see what kinds of carpets reached Europe. Therefore, paintings began to function as historical documents, which since then have been used to recognize and categorize carpets. For example, the carpet above is officially named “Holbein type.” It represents the category of carpets featuring a rhythmic geometric pattern consisting of diamonds (each containing a geometric pattern inside) on the red background.

Lotto carpet

Lorenzo Lotto, The Charity of Saint Anthony, 1542, Church of Saints Giovanni and Paolo, Venice, ottoman carpets in Renaissance Paintings
Ottoman Carpets in Renaissance Paintings: Lorenzo Lotto, The Charity of Saint Anthony, 1542, The Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, Italy.
‘Lotto’ carpet. 16th century, Turkey, wool, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ottoman carpets paintings
‘Lotto’ carpet. 16th century, Turkey. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Any carpet displaying a design of stylized vegetal arabesques in yellow on a red ground would be called “Lotto.” The name comes from the altarpiece by this Italian Renaissance painter. The blue and white border derives from a calligraphy style called Kufi. However, here it is not a writing but a stylized decoration.

Ghirlandaio carpet

Domenico Ghirlandaio Madonna and Child enthroned with Saint, circa 1483, Uffizi, Florence, ottoman carpets in Renaissance Paintings
Ottoman Carpets in Renaissance Paintings: Domenico Ghirlandaio, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saint, ca. 1483, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Carpet, 19th century, Turkey, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
‘Ghirlandaio’ Carpet, 19th century, Turkey, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

The Ghirlandaio carpets display the typical design of a central octagonal medallion inscribed within a square from which curvilinear designs emerge, forming an overall diamond shape.

Memling carpet

Hans Memling's Still Life with a Jug with Flowers (The reverse side of the Portrait of a Praying Man), c. 1480, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain, ottoman carpets in Renaissance Paintings
Ottoman Carpets in Renaissance Paintings: Hans Memling, Still Life with a Jug with Flowers (The reverse side of the Portrait of a Praying Man), c. 1480, Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.

Now it’s time for an exercise for you: why is the carpet below called a Memling carpet? What features are distinctive for this type of a rug?

Antique Karabagh rug with "Moghan / Memling Gül" design, late 19th century, Elisabethpol Governorate, Javanshir Uyezd, Azerbaijan, ottoman carpets in Renaissance Paintings
Antique Karabagh rug with “Moghan / Memling Gül” design, late 19th century, Elisabethpol Governorate, Javanshir Uyezd, Azerbaijan. Furniture.com.

Next time you look at the Renaissance painting, try to spot a rug. They are in so many Dutch, German, and Italian paintings; hanging from walls or serving as table-clothes. Rugs are everywhere!


Read more about art inspired interior design:


Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in Design

  • 20th century

    Mirror Mosaics and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

    By

    Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (1922-2019) was a contemporary, Iranian artist who became a living legend while she was still alive. Her oeuvre included multi-disciplines: drawing, painting, monotypes, textiles, collage, and large-scale sculptures. Monir is best known for her mirror mosaics; artworks that fuse Islamic geometrical design, abstraction,...

  • 20th century

    Tōkyō Thrift – Japonisme and the Japanese Bauhaus

    By

    The historical narrative of Modernism is overwhelmingly western. However, the history of the movement is, in reality, one of constant diffusion between the East and West; between Europe and Japan. It is an area of study that has been under-explored, but in the development of the...

  • 21st century

    Exploring the Boundaries of Creativity: Turning Data into Art

    By

    Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, and now based in Los Angeles, California, media artist Refik Anadol turns data into pieces of art by using data science and artificial intelligence. He set off on his journey as a media artist by asking the question “Can we...

  • Chairs that Changed the Way We Sit: Charles and Ray Eames, Plastic Chairs, c. 1950. Vitra. Chairs that Changed the Way We Sit: Charles and Ray Eames, Plastic Chairs, c. 1950. Vitra.

    dailyart

    Famous Chairs that Changed the Way We Sit

    By

    Apparently sitting is the new smoking and it will slowly kill us all. But given our current reality, we don’t have that much choice about it. One choice we do have though is what we sit on. And a chair can really make a difference. Imagine...

  • Design

    Get Inspired: Jewelry in Rossetti’s Paintings

    By

    Each piece of jewelry in Rossetti’s paintings worn by his models wasn’t invented but copied from actual accessories from the artist’s collection. Pieces were carefully selected to complement the garment, color, and other aesthetic features of the painting. Rossetti kept a cabinet in his house at...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy