Interior of the Salvago Villa, Alexandria, showing the present textile.
Note: These large çatma panels, typically with a narrow geometric inner frame and an endless repeating design which extends beneath this frame, are thought to have been used either as wall hangings, curtains or as covers for divan. This panel is in the 'quatre-fleurs style' named for the four most commonly used flowers: the tulip, hyacinth, rose and the carnation, all closely associated with the Ottoman Court. The carnation (karanfil) was one of the most beloved floral motifs of the Ottomans and by the end of the 16th century it had developed into the serrated fan-shaped carnation palmette motif known as the 'fan' pattern, or yelpazeli. Contemporaneous records show that the silk weaving ateliers of Bursa and Istanbul were carefully monitored by the Ottoman Court, the number of looms and the usage of precious metals was strictly controlled and workshops producing anything but the highest quality of textiles were forcibly closed down. It would follow that the designs were also closely monitored and that weavers and designers were forced to follow strict guidelines as to form and content and could, therefore, only show their creativity and inventiveness within a very narrow remit.
With a limited number of ornaments and a restricted range of colour the Ottoman textile designers were able to achieve impressive versatility using barely perceptible changes and by constantly modifying composition and using alternative combinations of motifs. They were able to ensure that within the considerable number of silks with offset rows of carnations that are extant, there are very few identical examples. Carnations have five, seven or even nine petals, they may have variations of floral sprays within each petal or none; the root, leaf and secondary palmette motifs have minute permutations and subtle changes. Although crimson velvet is the dominant colour, green, blue, ivory and yellow detailing can be used along with endless variations within the placement and usage of gilt and silver metal thread.
Two close comparables in design with the plain seven petalled carnation, and the same slight variation in the sepal and calyx design incorporating a small tulip motif and three foliate stem, are two-loom width panels, from Bursa, first half seventeenth century, one in the Mevlana Museum Konya, 156 by 125cm (Inv.no.615 – originally offered as a gift to the shrine of Mevlana Jalal al-din Rumi in Konya), and another of the same date, in the National Museum, Cracow, 169 by 125cm (Inv.no.XIX-4525). Two other parallel two-loom width panels are in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, Lisbon, Inv. Nos.1384 & 1425, see Un jardin encantado, Arte islámico en la Colección Calouste Gulbenkian, (ex. cat.), 2001, pp.144-5, no.57 and Islamic Art in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, (ex. cat.) Lisbon, 2004, p.115, no.49.
For other related velvets with variations on the current lot see an example in the Keir Collection, London (1978, Part 2, Textiles, Chp. 12, Anatolia: The Ottoman Period, pp.205-32, p.208 & 216, No.128, silver and gold brocaded velvet, fragment, Turkey, seventeenth century. A single panel velvet without a border in the Textile Museum, Washington D,C., Inv. No. 1.52.1951, (Mackie 1973, pp. 26 and 57, no. 15). A single left hand side çatma panel with similar carnations, border treatment and palm leaves in the Victoria and Albert Museum Collection, London, Inv. No. 535-1884 (Gürsu 1988, p. 140, no. 167 and front cover). A seven petal carnation design velvet and metal-thread cushion cover (minder) with lappet ends and no supporting secondary motifs was last sold in these rooms, 17 October 1997, lot 225, (Herrmann 1992, p.30, pl.10) and is now in the Collection of the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, (Thompson, 2004, pp.34-5, no.6). Two other fragments with similar fan-shaped carnations with five petals rather than seven are illustrated in Erber 1983, pp. 178-181, nos. G 10/1 & G 10/20) and a single right hand side divan cover panel from the Muncaster Castle Collection was sold in these rooms 18 October 1995, lot 9. For a Russian Orthodox cope (phelonion) formed from a loom width with staggered rows of carnations in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Inv.no. T-347 and a panel with three-coloured silk velvet pile in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Inv.no. T.154-1949, (Atasoy 2001, p.317, pl.102 & 103).
For comparable panels at auction see, a two-loom width panel, Bursa or Istanbul, late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, (156 by 123cm), Sotheby’s, London, 5 April 2006, lot 51; and another similar, (171 by 124cm), Sotheby’s, London, 25 November 2015, lot 175, Bernheimer Collection. For two single loom width panels, circa 1620-1715, (each 138.5 by 59.5cm), see Sotheby’s, London, 22 April 2015, lot 49, and a single loom width panel, circa 1600-1625, (142 by 61cm), Sotheby’s, London, 20 April 2016, lot 118.
Publications: Atasoy, Nurhan et al, Ipek. The Crescent and the Rose: Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets, London, 2001, pl.102 & 103.
Erber, Christian, (ed.), A Wealth of Silk and Velvet, Ottoman Fabrics and Embroideries, Bremmen, 1983, pp. 178-181, nos. G 10/1 & G 10/2
Gürsu, Nevber, The Art of Turkish Weaving, Istanbul, 1988, p. 140, no. 167 and front cover.
Herrmann, Eberhart, Asiatische Teppich-und Textilkunst, Band 4, Munich, 1992, p. 30, pl. 10
Mackie, Louise W., The Splendour of Turkish Weaving, (ex. cat.), The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., 1973, pp. 26 and 57, no. 15.
Spühler, Friedrich, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Keir Collection, London, 1978, Part 2, Textiles, Chp. 12, Anatolia: The Ottoman Period, pp.205-232, p.208 & 216, No.128, silver and gold brocaded velvet, fragment, Turkey, 17th century.
Thompson, Jon, Silk, 13th to 18th centuries, London, 2004, pp. 34-5, no. 6.
Sotheby's. Arts of the Islamic World, London, 26 Apr 2017, 10:30 AM