Fine Antique Rugs and The Evolution of a Collection- Part 2
by Jan David Winitz, President and Founder of Claremont Rug Company
Volume 7, Issue 4
In part one, I discussed two fundamental considerations for budding collectors of antique Oriental rugs to take into account: which pieces to buy and how much to invest.
Now, I will address the importance of developing a strategy for assembling a collection based on your personal taste and how to choose rugs that are most apt to grow in rarity and value.
A frequent question my clients ask is “how do I develop an educated eye?” I use my “Nine-Point Methodology” to help them determine a rug’s level of artistry and craftsmanship and its condition relative to its age. It also addresses a rug’s artistic aspects, such as the uniqueness of its color palette and pattern language, and the extent to which it is singularly unique.
I help clients comprehend the distinction between the small percentage of antique rugs that are “art-level” and the bulk of pieces which, although original and beautiful, are more decorative in nature. Regardless of the region in which it was woven, and art-level piece combines a series of traits that separate it from the norm.
Using both the “Nine-Point Methodology” and my Oriental Rug Pyramid™ as resources provides a pragmatic approach to assessing a carpet’s merits. The six-level Pyramid groups rugs into categories that begins with historical Museum-Quality rugs, which are usually held in private museums, at the apex. Rugs in Levels 2 (High Collectible) and 3 (Connoisseur Level) of the Pyramid are art-level rugs of the magnitude appropriate for collecting and investment, as well as exquisite for home display. Levels 4 through 6 are ideal for furnishing a home with beautiful, non-collectible rugs.
For a rug to be art-level, it must possess a breathtaking depth of beauty. A profound balance and harmony between a rug’s colors and designs, qualities central to Eastern artistic philosophy are essential. The finest of these rugs reflect both the tremendous diversity and underlying unity of the natural and cosmic worlds.
Less than two decades ago, historical Oriental carpets were still what the Wall Street Journal (June 19, 2010) described as a “little-noticed niche.” However, today they are “commanding sums more often reserved for masterpiece paintings than floor coverings.”
As Museum-Quality rugs are achieving record-breaking pieces, private connoisseurs are recognizing that the best 19th century rugs are the next segment of this market to be discovered. The finest carpets from “The Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving” (circa 1800-1910) offer a comparable level of artistic maturity, along with the great attraction that their condition allows them to still be used on the floor. As a result, they are becoming increasingly scarce, with collectors and investors voraciously acquiring them and removing them from the market.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of educating one’s eye about rugs in the process of building a collection. For as one increasingly comprehends the language of color and pattern, and the underlying harmonious structure of an art-level antique rug, collecting them brings ever-greater rewards.