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email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Wed, Dec 27th, 2006 11:50:16 AM
Topic: Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

The “preview” of the New York Winter Rugs Sales has appeared on the hali website and we could pick a turkey-farm full of bones with them over many points of reference.

However, as time is short and the who cares angle is strong for us we'll chose just to add a few of our fresh as a new-born cub comments to several of the pieces cited in that preview.

The first concerns a decidedly early and very rare so-called Bellini re-entrant rug.

lot 142 estimate $15-20,000

RK has often marveled at the selective-vision hali exhibits, especially when describing pieces at auction – both before and after the hammer has fallen.

This “preview” is but more of the same, which is the main reason we picked out this lot for mention.

We also chose it because we are quite familiar with it; should be, we purchased it at the sale they mention it coming from (last seen at SLO in 1999, when it made $20,365 (HALI 105, p.139)

We felt it was very undervalued then and ten years on, we still feel so.

At the time, hali’s comments about the rug were rather unflattering and we could recount the reason but chose not to for brevity’s sake.

Regardless of those former comments or the virtual blank-stare hali threw at it this time around, we’d like to inquire how often genuine Turkish Village Rugs that date “…circa 1700 (ed. in hali’s words)” come to the market with so little fanfare?

We have no time to expose the behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt but rest assured it does exist so we will just state in objection this “Bellini” makes the dodds/LAMCA piece look like the furnishing carpet it is. Here the fantastic rich coloration and nuanced design demonstrate what circa 1700 Village weavings are all about – shame the hali previewer hasn’t the experience to realize what he/she/it was looking at.

We expect the rug will not do much better this time around and would have definitely counseled the owner (yes we sold it immediately after purchase) to have chosen a more opportune time to sell it.

”Nuff about that rug but we couldn’t resist comparing it to this dish-rag:

lot 161 estimate $12,000 - 15,000

The late 16th early /17th century dating given by hali and sotheby’s is, again in our estimation, optimistic at best added to the fact the rug is nothing more than a boring, rote genuine period reproduction of an older “classical” format.

RK realizes appreciation for historic rugs has a two-tiered gallery -- classical rugs always being afforded better seats than their less urbanized brethren -- but if 161 brings high estimate then lot 142 should sell for three or four times its high guesstimate.

Go look through the books that picture early Turkish Village Rugs and you will have a hard time finding other rugs of this date, circa 1700, that are much better.

OK enough said…tune in for part 2 of our look-see at hali’s NY Winter Sale preview, which should appear soon.

Author: jc
Wed, Dec 27th, 2006 11:50:16 AM

We have been searching for a photo and finally found it.

As you can see, the rug on the left is very, very similar to the "Bellini" rug we illustrate in the beginning of this thread.

Looking at the two side-by-side should be an object lesson: It shows how rug formats and patterns are shared by weavers of different generations.

We would confidently date the rug from the sotheby sale to the very end of the 17th century/beginning of the 18th century and the other to the second half of the 18th.

Of course, we see it possible both could possibly be somewhat older but in no way do we see the later piece being earlier, or better in any way mind you, than the former.

Nor do we see it possible there could be a much greater age difference between them.

However, regardless of their "actual" ages, it should be obvious the sotheby piece has much better articulation, balance and proportions.

It is also more comparable to the earlier and more important examples of Bellini rugs, while the other comes off, in all ways, as closer to the later, end-of-the-line Bellini-type rugs.

But, as late and end-of-the-line it might be, compared to that fluffy, boring two-dimensional pseudo-Bellini dennis dodds foisted-off on the Los Angeles County Art Museum it looks like the greatest re-entrant rug Giovanni Bellini ever imagined.

Author: jc
Sun, Dec 17th, 2006 03:15:55 PM

Unlike the firework hammer prices sotheby managed to click off hardly any exploded at their, way in second place, rival Christie's rug sale.

We'll avoid mentioning what the decorative rugs did and just cite a few results the RK-type rugs brought.

The $62,400 lot 66 made was, comparatively cheap but since this rug is the type you have to see in person and we didn't, that's all we're going to say.

The large Arabatchi torba made a dirt price of $2,880 and the torba $1,680.

Of the two main rugs: lot 21 sold for $4,200 and lot 20 did not sell.

It's clear Turkmen rugs have far fewer appreciators than Caucasian and this round of sales proved that once more.

We are sure the marketability, eg. use as decorative accessory, of the Turkmen carpet will not change much. We are likewise sure their place in carpet studies will become significantly more prominent as time goes on, and that's whether or not pieces like these sell for higher prices at auction.

Author: jc
Mon, Dec 11th, 2006 04:14:12 PM

Back-handed compliment et.al., hali’s preview of the Christie New York(CNY) sale began like this:
"The New York Winter 2006 rug sales begin at the Rockefeller Center on Tuesday 12 December, where Christie’s Elisabeth Parker and Betsy Murphy have put together a small sale (just 130 lots) that appears, from the catalogue, to have some of the best looking and most interesting material they have offered for a little while."

Fearing the connotations of long and therefore choosing little, this pre-viewer nevertheless still managed to conjure long up. Yesshhh, even when they’re trying, it’s hard for this hali crew to extend credit to anyone.

That is to anyone, who doesn’t regularly take multiple double-page adverts out in their rag.

Bad as that permanent bias has always been, the now basically inexpert reportage we have lately seen about the rugs themselves makes it clear our well expressed opinion of the evans and schaeffer team are right on.

We’d like to call that twosome - little and large - for obvious reasons. However, little and less is more like it concerning their collective rug expertise.

Let’s take a gander at a few pieces the hali-boys turned their jaundiced gaze towards:

“There are a number of Turkmen pieces, including two white-bordered Yomut main carpets, one (lot 20, $8,000-12,000) with a very regular kepse-göl field featuring much green, and pretty floral elems, the other (lot 21, $5,000-10,000) somewhat less elegant, with a tauk nuska göl design.”.

lot 20 Christie New York

Young ben might believe his pen is light and breezy but, honestly now lad, if it were any lighter it would bloomin’ just float away without notice.

Come on, boys, you can do better than that, can’t’cha?

“Much green….pretty floral elems” -- how descriptively absent and rug imp-perceptive.

Please Note: The three staggered rows of complex “trees” are rarely seen on main carpet elem and their appearance here, on lot 20, and hali’s pre-viewer’s failure to even notice demonstrates our position to a “T”.

While their calling the other “less elegant” is an opinion once again, we’ll take exception, because lot 21 is an even better piece than 20.

lot 21 Christie New York

Although we’re tired of educating our competition and would be far better served to not mention anything, we just can’t let the mediocre and worse comments, like these, hali and others utter with impunity stand un-contested.

We realize Turkmen main carpets are not “in” at the moment with the small “crowd” of high-profile walking-wallet-style collectors presently on the market.

However, and trust us on this one fans, soon certain information will be forthcoming and the Turkmen main carpet will, like it once was, regain top collector status.

Therefore RK sees CNY’s guesstimates as cheap and, as many of you realize we are not afraid to make pronouncements based on photographs, we do so here and go on record without having handled either of these main carpets or the bags we will mention.

Compared to the rugs, what the hali pre-viewer wrote about the Turkmen bags was equally blasé.
There is also a group of assorted Turkmen bags, lots 114-119, of which the most notable is a ‘classic’ design, if rather pale, Arabachi chuval ($3,000-5,000).”

Likewise, we would have lavished a bit more praise on them particularly this Ersari torba

Lot 114 Christie New York

Better to have pictured that in their preview than this tired and no longer lusted-for Arabatchi large format chuval -- ‘classic design’ or not

lot 116 Christie New York

We do agree with them about the "looks cheap" aspect of lot 66:

"…the undoubted star of the CNY sale is lot 66, a previously unrecorded 18th century rug with a medallion and outsize pendant design known from a handful of other late classical period provincial carpets from the east Anatolian/northwest Persian/southern Transcaucasian weaving complex, including two in the Kirchheim Collection (Orient Stars, 1993, pls.82, 83) and a fragmented example from the Bernheimer Collection, sold at CLO in February 1996 (lot 37).

The present lot is complete, being woven in two parts and joined, in the manner of some later east Anatolian Kurdish divan covers. To us, not having seen the rug in the flesh, the estimate of $15-20,000 looks cheap.”

lot 66 Christie New York

We are, however and we should immediately state, not so sure about this piece as they are (or we were about the others mentioned above) and, until we handle it, we’d prefer to reserve final judgment.

Maybe it is as great as it looks and they claim, with the wool quality and coloration we know go along with what this weaving appears to be.

However, we have seen many revivals and “copies”, so until we have seen it in the flesh we’re taking a wait and see position.

We will in theory write something about the Sotheby sale before it happens, so stay tuned.

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