Myths regarding Renaissance Oriental Rugs

Lauren Arnold is an independent art historian and Research Associate at the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, University of San Francisco.

She is presently working on a companion volume to her “Princely Gifts and Papal Treasures”. And when released, it will hopefully SHATTER the present-day myths regarding Renaissance Oriental Rugs.

The new book tentatively titled “Rethinking the Oriental Carpet in early Renaissance Art” has led her to several new conclusions about the nature of these painted carpets in European works of art.

She demonstrates that depicted carpets before 1500 are not of Muslim origin, as once assumed, but are of Eastern Christian/Armenian origin.

As an example below is Holbein’s “Double Portrait of Jean de D’inteville and Georges de Selve, also known as ’The Ambassadors, 1533.

Look at the close-up of the rug on the table. An Eastern Christian/Armenian rug as were most rugs we see in Renaissance paintings. Especially those depicted in Churches.

Why would a Church in Europe purchase and use Islamic rugs when Europe was at war with the Ottoman Empire over control of important religious sites like Jerusalem and Constantinople? Defies all logic.

by Arto Tavukciyan

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