Anatolian rugs in Renaissance paintings

Thanks to some Renaissance artwork that has survived from the 14 Century onwards, the study of Turkish carpets and kilims had another source of evidence to consider.  It was popular to use beautiful handmade rugs and kilims as decoration for the staging of portraits and paintings.

The practise of naming a particular type of rug after the painters in whose artworks they were recorded became somewhat common, perhaps due to a lack of in-depth knowledge of carpet origins at the time.  Or maybe it is because more paintings of Oriental carpets survived than the actual carpets.  Following is some examples.

The National Gallery of London houses Gentile Bellini’s ‘The Virgin and Child Enthroned’ painted between 1475-1485 which features a ‘Bellini’ type Islamic prayer rug.

Gentile Bellini Madonna and Child Enthroned late 15th century. Seated on an Islamic Prayer rug.

Hans Memling was a 15th Century Flemish painter whose depictions of a certain motif resulted in the motif now being referred to as the ‘Memling Gul’ (gul being ‘A medallion of octagonal or angular shape.  Often the gul is repeated to an all-over pattern in the field.’ Stone. P, 2004).

Hans Memling’s ‘Still Life with Jug of Flowers’ late 15th Century.

Click here to see our collection of pure silk and silk & cotton hand woven soumak kilims featuring the ‘Memling Gul’.

Another well know example is the ‘Holbein’ pattern although these are divided into 4 subgroups of which Holbein only painted 2 (not sure why he gets the credit here then?)

Holbein – The Ambassadors. A beautiful handwoven Anatolian rug on the table.

And we couldn’t talk about this subject without mentioning ‘Lotto’ carpets, which I personally think are some of the richest, warmest looking Anatolian carpets out there.  I can remember my father-in-law coming across a very, very old and very, very worn (read falling apart) Lotto carpet and even in the state it was in, it was just stunning.  Flowing arabesque lattice works in yellowish-gold on a rich red background.

‘The Alms of St Anthony’ Lorenzo Lotto, 1542

Close up of ‘Lotto’ carpet in the painting

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