Two Million Dollar Rug Steals the Show at Sotheby's "Masterworks" Auction

An antique Persian rug recently sold for nearly two million dollars at auction, making it one of the most expensive rugs ever purchased. The piece in question is an amazing Isfahan from the Safavid period in Persia and represents the pinnacle of Persian rug design. Showcasing that the best rugs are just as desirable and just as valuable as any artwork, the sale of this rug is a testament to the enduring quality and artistic brilliance of these masterworks.

While most people might not be used to thinking of antique rugs as the sort of thing that can fetch millions of dollars, this is precisely what happened at a recent Sotheby’s “Masterworks” auction, where a sixteenth century Isfahan rug commanded an astounding $1.93 million when the gavel fell – nearly three times the estimate set on the piece before the auction. And while 21 other exquisite antique items were sold in addition to the prized rug, the price tag on this incredible Isfahan was large enough to represent a full 36% of the auction’s total sales.

Sixteenth Century Safavid Isfahan Carpet

This is what a two million dollar rug looks like. This gorgeous, immaculate example of the prowess of the carpet makers of Isfahan is a genuine treasure.

According to a spokesperson from Sotheby’s, there was tremendous interest in the antique Persian rug, lot #22, before the auction even began. The spokesman also explained that it was clear early on in the going that the piece was going to fetch an especially steep price. “There was active bidding from a number of bidders,” he said. “We knew that this would happen from the reaction to the catalogue. For a rug to be in the Masterworks auction, it has to have provenance, and be quite rare.” A masterwork indeed, it is clear from this auction that at least one person out there absolutely had to have this rug.

Certainly the cultural and historical origins of this two million dollar rug played a significant role in this tremendous desirability. After all, rugs with the pedigree boasted by this big seller have historically been among the most sought-after and have had a reputation for impeccable craftsmanship for centuries. Isfahan rugs – especially Safavid Isfahans such as this piece – represent the pinnacle of antique Persian rugs.

Detail of Safavid Isfahan Carpet

A detail-shot of the rug. Note the tremendous amount of expertly-worked detail throughout, as well as the rug’s stunning palette of reds and golds.

Working in a culture in which rugs were among the highest and most desirable forms of art, the rug-weavers of Isfahan – the capital of the Persian Empire during the Safavid period – had the luxury of looking inward for inspiration. Isfahan rugs are typically characterized by spiraling vinescrolls and deeply recurved tendrils – aesthetic trends that were also present in other art of the time, especially architecture. Safavid Isfahan rugs also tend to feature elaborate central medallions and exceptionally complex and finely-worked arabesques. These rugs were made with the finest wool and dyes available, and represent a supreme achievement in Persian rug design.

Indeed, that it was a Safavid Isfahan that fetched such a price at such an illustrious auction makes all the sense in the word to those with a deep knowledge of antique Oriental rugs. Pieces such as the two million dollar rug represent a supreme achievement not only in rug making, but in visual art in general. That they continue to command such high price tags centuries after their construction is a strong testament to the unique level of quality in their design and manufacture.

If you enjoyed post, you might also enjoy some other things we’ve written about here at the Nazmiyal Blog! Perhaps you’d be interested in the post where Nazmiyal Blog interviews artist David Thomas Smith, whose work with Google Maps and antique Persian rug patterns is simply amazing. Or perhaps the post in which Nazmiyal Blog offers up some tips on how to decorate with your new antique Persian rug. Or maybe the post where we talk all about antique rug design boards. There’s always something new and interesting to read on the Nazmiyal Blog!

This blog was published by: Nazmiyal Antique Oriental Rugs

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