RK imagines by now our readership realizes it takes a lot of rug to impress us – and we don’t mean a lot of pile or a large size.
Facing the fact most rugs are not art or historic is a tough one for most collector’s who have spent their time, and their money, buying pieces they thought, or were told, had such lofty attributes.
Sadly for them, and often at best, their purchases can only be described as craft work, the designation we place below art or history.
Then, of course, there is our airport-art reference, which we might rank a bit lower than craft.
Finally the bottom of that ranking is commercial – and, trust us on this one, there are many levels that can be differentiated in each of these categories.
The spring sale at sotheby's is, in our understanding, the worst major sale they have ever mounted. Yesshh, their catalog is bereft of even one exemplary lot, in any area – not only in the collector arena RK limits our interests to.
It’s a fairly large sale, 255 lots, that is split about half and half between the decorative carpets and those sotheby’s and others refer to as collectible. Actually we eschew that term, read on to see why.
We spied nary a beautiful decorative weaving and since anything, even airport-art, could be considered a collectible
(though we highly disagree), we will grant there might be some piece that could be so described -- but surely never and not by us.
OK, then, since finding anything for us to write about was a struggle, let’s take a peek at the four lots RK managed to pluck out of the morass of mediocrity the sotheby carpet department included in their catalog.
The first, and frankly only piece RK would even allow our dog to sleep on, is lot 18:
We illustrate lot 18, the white field piece to the left, next to another, lot 71, with memling gols, which is also in the sale.
Now everyone who knows how to hold a rug book right side up realizes the carpet expert and her entire department at sotheby’s could be correctly and gently referred to as lacking brilliance. In fact like most other auction houses, these folks can barely provide even minimal expertise to buyers and sellers who know even less – hard as that might be to imagine.
The catalog descriptions call lot 18, the white field rug, a Kazak and lot 71, the memling gol piece, a Zakatala.
Now that bit of fancy footwork might really impress the rug challenged enough for them to put some credence behind the catalog but, to us, it only highlights ignorance is not expertise – talking the talk is not walking the walk.
Why would one refer to these two rugs, which are both Zakatela if you ask us, with two different provenance?
Again those who know a little are dangerous, far more so than those who know nothing.
The white field rug carries a 4-6,000$ estimate and is called mid-19th century, the other a 5-7,000$ one with a late 19th century dating.
Needless to say we like neither although we would much prefer fido sleeping on lot 18, which has some provincial “character” rather than 71, a rug we’d label as 100% airport-art.
The next rug we picture is a ghastly, end of the line Borjalu Kazak:
It carries a whopping 25,000-30,000$ estimate (what are these people in sotheby’s carpet-land drinking with their lunch, wormwood), which we are sure will not be achieved on sale day. We do agree with the circa 1880 date and that’s about all.
This Borjalu, which isn’t craft and barely makes the airport-art designation as far as we are concerned, demonstrates every characteristic one does not want to find in any collector piece, or even in a furnishing carpet – it’s ‘orrible to quote the Sex pistol’s Johnny Rotten’s best quip.
The last of the near misses and worse that bulge from the sotheby’s catalog is this laughable Chodor ensi:
Dated to the ubiquitous circa 1880 sotheby’s cataloger refers to when confused, we might have preferred circa 1860-70 as more likely in our experience.
Regardless of the fact this ensi apes real ones, it ain’t one.
It is what we refer to as a pastiche – an amalgam of disparate motif and design lifted from other, earlier, pieces.
We like nothing about it other than quickly erasing it (and the rest of this sale) from our memory.