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Old January 20th, 2012, 02:24 PM   #1
Pierre Galafassi
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 87
Default Jacques Coeur's strange carpet

Hi all,

This painting by Fra Carnavale (1448, «Jacques Coeur’s Annunciation», Munich) shows an extraordinary, long and narrow «animal rug».
FIG 1 and 2

The carpet features an ivory field background and a red border.
In the middle of the field, a narrow rectangular medallion contains a puzzling geometric motif ( a lozenge which itself encloses another narrow rectangle, both ivory-shade and none being filled). On top of the lozenge two slender, long-tailed "rampant" blue beasts face each other. The rug pattern seems to be symmetrical, thus, another pair of beasts is probably hidden under the angel’s train.
The rectangular medallion is enclosed into a kind of «chain-mail» pattern, drawn in red on the white background and each «mail» contains a small blue «comma» motif (too small to tell, but it could be, perhaps, one of the earliest boteh motif on rug).
«Chain-mails», «wrought irons» and interlaced patterns were rather common in Spanish rugs, even as late as the seventeenth century. An Al-Andalus origin of the rug is a possibility.

A pair of animals or chimaeras facing each other, (quite often with a tree of life in between them) was a ubiquitous medieval- and Renaissance motif, probably imported from Asia (see Yohann’s thread «A contribution to animal rugs) and Filiberto’s thread «What are those?». In the latter, Filiberto even shows a picture of the (fourteenth century) inlaid marble floor of the church of San Miniato al Monte which features nearly identical pairs of lions and griffins.
The «facing pair of beasts» motif was also used extensively on coat of arms. For example the pair of lions on Henri II- and (early) Richard I arms.

Note: Jacques Coeur, the fellow who commissioned this painting and probably owned the rug, was, at the time, perhaps the richest man in France. A banker and businessman, he made part of his huge fortune in import-export activities, trafficking with the middle East and Spain, among other markets.
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