Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-08-2004 11:07 AM:

Two strange Caucasian Prayer Rugs

Dear All,

Here there is another interesting painting by the British Walter Charles Horlsley (1855 - ?)
He traveled to India, via Turkey in 1875. Then he was in Egypt in 1878.
This is an 1878 oil painting, Prayer time at the Blue Mosque, Cairo:

I found a modern photo of the same spot:

Comparing the two images we can see the almost photographic rendering of the architecture by the artist.
I said "almost", because Horsley edited out part of the scene on the left - unless the ceramic decoration was modified later, which I think it’s rather improbable.

Let’s have a closer look at the Caucasian prayer rug

I find it strange with that empty red field and those flowers in the spandrels. An artistic license?

This one is unusual too: a detail from Rudolph Ernst’s Evening Prayer (last painting in Salon Part IV).

The elements of the rug (the dragon border, the mihrab with that device) are plausible, though.

What do you think?


Posted by Louis Dubreuil on 02-13-2004 12:23 PM:

Filiberto bonsoir

If you go to the Shürmann book "oriental carpets", page 181 (in the french issue), you 'll see a shirvan prayer rug with the same "birdy" device in the niche. This rug is with a white field but the design and the border are quite same (I'll send pictures as soon as I'll can use the scan of my office).
I have no idea for the second rug with red field, but I'll search again this evening in my doc.

A tous salutations.

Louis Dubreuil

Ed. note - here are the pictures:

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-14-2004 05:10 AM:

Thanks Louis,

As I said, the elements of the rug in Ernst’s painting are plausible.

What is unusual is the combination of a very dark background in the upper part of the rug with a clear background for the lower field and the main "dragon" border.


Posted by Louis Dubreuil on 02-14-2004 10:14 AM:

Bonjour Filiberto

The strange thing is that the two rugs are the negative of the other : dark field/clear design in the Ernst's rug , dark design/clear field. in the Shürmann's.