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OAKLAND, CA.- The difficulty for connoisseurs to hone their eye for art-level 19th century Oriental rugs goes beyond their limited availability at individual galleries. The periodic international auctions invariably mix a few collectible carpets with dozens of pedestrian pieces. As a result, there are few venues to view premier examples of the artistry from "The Second Golden Age of Weaving."
Enter Claremont Rug Company, a gallery founded in 1980 whose entire inventory of more than 3000 pieces is devoted to art and investment carpets from this period.
"Many of our clients," said Claremont president and founder Jan David Winitz, "have told us over the years that they treated our Gallery and, more recently, our website as a 'museum' where they could see rare carpets of superlative artistry and contemplate their majesty."
But once rugs were acquired by other collectors, they were removed from the website and not available to be seen by other rug aficionados. This has led Winitz for the first time to provide a look at 50 of the most majestic rugs that were recently sold to connoisseurs through Claremont 's Intercontinental Collection event. Instructive text discusses the artistic and collectible merits of each piece.
"Because it is virtually impossible for prospective investors to immerse themselves in connoisseur-level carpets," Winitz said, "I decided to publish carpets of the magnitude that serious investors are continuing to acquire as they build monumental private collections.
"When they become available, even the best 19th century rugs are still relatively modest price levels. It's ironic that a world-class 19th century rug is at the price range of a modest work of a well-known contemporary painter," Winitz said.
In the Intercontinental Collection, gathered by five generations of a family of collectors, highly collectible 19th century area –size rugs range from $25,000 to $175,000, while the oversize and palace-size pieces range up to $500,000.
The Gallery has also released a final 42 pieces from the Collection. These carpets had been stored for decades in a rug vault in the family's Rio de Janeiro home. This major carpet ensemble included many examples of "best-of-the-best" pieces and very rare, well-preserved pieces woven circa 1800-1890.
Rug aficionados acknowledge that the Intercontinental Collection rivals the Hudson River Valley Collection as one of the most important privately held groups of antique rugs to come to market in the past decade. Winitz noted that one of the primary differences in the two is the accelerated pace of sales.
"Rugs from the Intercontinental Collection were placed with virtually no hesitation on the part of the buyers," he said. "More than 80 percent of the inventory has been acquired. Our most optimistic estimates were that it might take a year to sell that quantity of first-rate pieces. It is a testament to the artistic merit of the rugs and to the vigorous interest of investors.
Winitz said "the many highlights" of the online exhibition included:
- - A museum-level Caucasian Shirvan rug dated to 1796,
- - An early 19th century Motasham Kashan rug
- - A second quarter of the 19th century Bakshaish "Garden of Paradise" carpet with a rare camelhair field, and
- - A 14x20 Sultanabad in mint condition, circa 1880M
"The upper end of the Oriental rug market, "Winitz said, "is benefiting from sophisticated investors and knowledgeable art collectors moving to precious tangible assets." This trend has been recently reported in ArtDaily.com, Forbes.com and chronicled in the Financial Times of London, Worth and the Wall Street Journal.