The Nagel Fall Auction takes place on November 9, 2004, 11 days before the rippon boswell sale. Both these sales are, in our opinion, rather ho-hum and if we were forced to pick the better, the boswell’s would have our vote. That said let’s take a look at some of the pieces in the Nagel sale that caught our eye for one reason or another..
The first, lot 10, is described in the catalog as “An Ushak with Holbein-pattern, WESTERN ANATOLIA, ca. 1700, repiled areas, rest., otherwise good condition.” In all fairness we must mention the English language descriptions are far less detailed than those which Nagel’s carpet department head, Uwe Jordan, provides for his German-speaking audience. And, as Rk’s German is rather limited, we can only provide what appears in English in this review. But since the carpet itself, and not the cataloger’s often far from unbiased opinion, is what matter to us this will not hamper our reportage of the sale. Speaking of catalogers, we have always found Uwe Jordan’s descriptions to be far less controversial and ridiculous than boswell’s, although we often can cite errors in his as well.
We do not agree with his dating of this carpet and, in fact, would be extremely surprised if this carpet could be accurately dated to anytime prior to circa 1750-1800. We do not like anything about it – from the stiff cookie-cutter medallions in the field to the repetitiously rendered minor borders.
While Jordan can point to other similarly over-dated classical Turkish village pieces, particularly those belonging to little lord franses and his carpet-vassel jonny eskanazi, no-one who is truly in the know would candle-to such a comparison. Sorry boys, this just ain’t on and this piece, like those others published for sale by franses, eskanazi et.al., are, to our eyes, nothing more than post-classic period reproductions. While Jordan’s estimation of 8,000 euro reflects our position on dating, it surely doesn’t his.
Here is lot 11’s description “A Lotto rug, ANATOLIA, 17th ct., low pile, smaller repiled areas, rest.” While this Lotto rug’s dating is far more likely to be correct, we’d have preferred seeing a late 17th/early 18th century one. The rather novel pseudo-Holbein medallion in-fill of the border’s cartouches and the similarly stiff, cookie-cutter depiction of the typical Lotto field pattern are the two strongest points supporting our opinion. Also the outer minor border, one that is surely not found on any Lotto that actually is 17th century, add additional weight to our view. Again this lot’s 8,000 euro estimation echoes what we wrote about the previous lot. We do not like either of these two lots, period.
However that is not the case with, Lot 42, which carries this catalog description “ A Kazak, CAUCASUS, late 19th ct., slight losses to pile, corroded browns, smaller repiled areas", as it appears to us to be somewhat earlier than Jordan makes it. We like this rug and would be equally surprised if there is anything present in its materials or construction that would make us agree. The open and uncluttered main border is the most attractive feature and we like the minor border layout as well. The field’s three medallions have that same stiff, cookie cutter look but this should be expected in a 19th century weaving – not in any earlier ones. All and all we find it charming and quite reasonable at the estimate of 1,500 euro and are sure it will sell for far more.
About Lot 54 the catalog says it is “An unusual and rare antique pillar rug, CHINA, repiled areas, small stain". Not being very enamored of things Chinese, we must say we like this rug, too. The wonderfully fearsome “demon” dominating the field and the simple but strategically placed secondary ornaments are far superior to other pillar rugs we have seen. Seems the consignor and Jordan agree and the while the 25,000 euro estimate is high we think this piece will end up selling, if not for that price than somewhat lower but still within the ballpark Nagel has placed it in.
Like lot 42, we feel dating lot 64 to the 2nd half of the 19th century is too conservative, early 19th would be more accurate. The expertly conceived trellised-field and borders belie such a late date. And, if their proportions were better handled, we might be wont to date it even earlier. The borders also suffer from this lack of proportion and perspective seen in circa 1800 and earlier weavings but the main border is nothing short of spectacular, that point aside. Watch this soar past the 4,500 euro estimate if Nagel is successful in getting some of the sotheby’s-type decorator crowd in attendance on sale day.
Lot 90 carries this description “A classical caucasian floral carpet, CAUCASUS, ca. 1700, upper end cut, added repiled, losses to pile due to age, slits, rep., reselvaged, selvage damaged due to age". It is the big nuke of the sale. Thanks to John Taylor we learned this rug is published in Jacoby’s “Eine Sammlung Orientalischer Teppiche”1923, as plate 14. It’s a beautiful rug – one of the best, if not the best, of these classical Caucasian floral rugs. But the now very faded rewoven top border and field section will, no doubt, keep the price to the neighborhood Nagel has pitched it at – 45,000 euro. Just for grins notice the not dissimilar relationship lot 42’s main border holds with what we see here. The apple didn’t fall very far from the tree, in this case, now did it?
Jordan has made several attribution errors and lot 102 is one of them. Describing it as from the “Ladik region” is wrong as it surely is a Melas area rug. We agree with his “probably 1st half 19th ct” dating and his 3,500 euro estimate. The main border is unusual, maybe that’s what threw him, but the minor borders, coloration and “tree” field all fit with a Melas and not Ladik attribution.
The catalog doesn’t offer a specific provenance for the next lot, number 103, other than Anatolian. We’d also be stumped to define it further as, in our estimation, it, like lots 10 and 11, is a post-period repro. The catalog dates it to the 18th century but we know it is a mid-19th century weaving. The grossly proportioned flaccid medallion in the field and the monotonous coloration are convincing enough to assure us this is fact and not opinion. There is nothing here we like and the 3,500 euro estimate we believe will prove to be no more than a fantasy on 11/9/04.
Describing lot 110, as “An Anatolian village rug” from the “MELAS REGION” is another attribution error. We believe this rug was produced farther south and west, perhaps in the Bergamo region. We do agree it is 19th century but don’t like it much – the wonky somewhat weird ornamentation in the field the major point of our disfavor.
Lot 171 is called “A Shirvan”, (we’d prefer Kuba,) “prayer rug, CAUCASUS, 19th ct.” and carries a 2,200 euro estimate. We like the “spirit” this rug’s design evokes and even though it is somewhat damaged according to the catalog, we’d not be surprised to see it sell for more as the drawing, proportions and coloration are far superior to the many others of its ilk.
Same goes for lot 191, an “…unusual Nurata Suzani with copper thread embroidery, BUCHARA, 19th ct". The 3,500 euro estimate is quite reasonable and we are sure after it is tidied up it will go for a lot more – after all the Suzani market is one of the most hyped and this piece is both beautiful, old and unusual – attributes devotees of these embroideries rarely miss.
The last lot we will look at is Lot 277. We believe this is another mis-attribution as calling it “A Jomud main carpet, TURCOMAN, late 19th ct.” far from fact. While there is no technical analysis provided in the catalog we will wager this piece is Eagle-group and at least early 19th if not older. If it sells for the 750 euro estimate we can only say it was a give-away gift the clients of Nagel bestowed on some lucky Turk-0-manic…maybe that’ll be you?