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Claremont Rug Company Orchestrates the Marriage of Antique Oriental Rugs, Fine Art & Furniture (Part 1)

Cover of Private Air Luxury Homes The interplay between traditional Persian carpets and modern art can create a deeply memorable eclectic environment. Here, the exquisite flowing patterns and warm, muted hues of an oversize Persian Manchester Kashan carpet create the perfect counterbalance with the graphic lines and cool colors of the Lichtenstein that hangs above it.
OAKLAND, CA.- In this first segment of a two-part series, Jan David Winitz, president and founder of Claremont Rug Company, recalls one of his fondest memories. It was a telephone call that he received from a client after having placed a series of antique Oriental rugs in a “run up” to a seminal oil painting that graced the wall of a substantial mid-1800’s century residence in Greenwich Village.

“The lady, an avid art collector, had acquired more than a dozen rugs to set off a multi-million dollar signature painting. She called to tell me that a sum cost significantly less than the artwork, the rugs brought her even more enjoyment than the painting itself,” Winitz said, “She definitely wanted me to know that.”

Claremont’s trove of rugs, some 2500 in number, is entirely from the Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving, ca. 1800 to ca. 1910.

That great art and the best antique Oriental rugs enhance each other in a room or in an entire residence is not unusual for Winitz, who opened his Gallery in 1980. After all, he has clients such as a couple in the Midwest who own pieces by Willem de Kooning and Gerhard Richter, and also are avid rug collectors. Another client has built an important trove of 120 rugs for the less than the cost of the Lichtenstein that hangs in his residence. Among his clients are also collectors of works by Chuck Close and Roy Lichtenstein.

And it is not happenstance.

For decades, Winitz has been discussing with his clients that Persian and tribal rugs from the 19th century have influenced artists from Monet to Kandinsky as well as Holbein, Vermeer, Matisse and Klee, to name a few.

There are even photos, published in the New York Times, from Claude Monet’s bedroom and workshop/living room in Giverny which show 19th century tribal rugs.

“Antique Oriental rugs complement both classic and modern art because they influenced it. The colors and patterns have direct affinity with the artwork,” says Winitz, “and our clients, many of whom are extremely knowledgeable collectors of multiple forms of art and antiques, are deeply passionate about melding sculpture, paintings, furniture and rugs into an impactful setting.”

In part two, Winitz will discuss specific examples of working with clients to build collections and to create an interior design element that reflects tastes of the residence’s owner while bringing attention to the art and furnishings.

Christie’s Arts from the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets totals $14,800,042

August 2021

LONDON.- Christie’s Arts of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, including Oriental Rugs and Carpets realised a total of £10,771,500/ $14,800,042 / €12,624,198, achieving sell-through rates of 96% by value and 82% by lot.

Sara Plumbly, Head of the Islamic Art Department, commented: “It was a great pleasure to have been part of the journey of this spectacular painting, formerly in the collection of Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. Bringing it to the market for the first time in over 100 years was a very special moment. It almost doubled its pre-sale estimate when it sold for over £2.3 million. Another highlight of the auction was a late 15th or early 16th century Veneto-Saracenic bucket, which was signed by the master Mahmud Al-Kurdi, and which tripled its pre-sale estimate when it sold for £1,822,500 / $2,504,115 / €2,135,970. Throughout the sale we saw very engaged bidding from 28 countries, across 4 continents.”

The top lot of the auction was the magnificent Qajar multiple portrait depicting the grandsons of Fath ‘Ali Shah in the Saf-e Salam, a Persian New Year (Norouz) procession. Attributable to the court artist ‘Abdullah Khan, this remarkable painting exemplifies the glory of the Qajar era, and established a new world auction record for any Qajar painting, realising £2,302,500 / $3,163,635 €2,698,530.

Further highlights included a monumental calligraphic Iznik tile, dating from circa 1565, which sold for £325,000 / $446,550 / €380,900, and a Safavid painting of Bahman enthroned at court, dating from 1540-50, which sold for £200,000 / €274,800 / €234,400 against an estimate of £10,000-15,000. A silver overlaid brass pen-case with the coat of arms of the Giustiniani family, made in Venice in the mid of the 16th century, sold for £150,000 / $206,100 / €175,800, tripling its pre-sale estimate.

The selection of oriental rugs & carpets in the auction was highlighted by an important Safavid silk Polonaise carpet, made in the 17th century in Central Persia, which achieved £2,062,500 / $2,833,875 / €2,417,250.

From a global antique Persian rug authority:

Comments from Jan David Winitz, founder/president of Claremont Rug Company: “The auction’s ‘star,’ was an important 17th century Safavid ‘Polonaise’ carpet that we identify as a Level 1 (Museum-Level) in our Oriental Rug Pyramid (©). It sold for $2.83 million (U.S.). I was gratified by the tremendous interest in rugs from ”The Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving (ca. 1800 to ca. 1910), as it reflects what we have seen in the market over the past year. It is also important to note that almost all the antique Oriental rugs that were offered were sold.

“The carpets that I categorize as Level 2 (High-Collectible) or Level 3 (Connoisseur-Caliber) sold without exception at or above the pre-sale estimates, while the great majority of the Level 4 (High-Decorative) carpets offered also sold.

“My overall observation, based on the results of this sale and the interest during the pandemic from our clients who reside on six continents, is that antique Oriental rugs are increasingly a significant segment for art and antique aficionados. I believe that collectors are in the process of understanding that, as we have been saying, that this generation will be the last to have access to the finest rugs from the 19th and turn of the 20th centuries.”

Louise Broadhurst, Head of the Oriental Carpet Department, commented: “Presented for the first time at auction since it was woven over four hundred years ago, this Safavid silk Polonaise carpet, made in the 17th century in Central Persia, was formerly part of the noble collection of the Italian Pio Falcò family, its identical pair remains within the prestigious Doria Pamphilj collection displayed in the Palazzo del Principe in Genoa. Retaining an astonishing amount of its silk pile and gold and silver-thread, it exemplifies the golden age of Safavid weaving under Shah ‘Abbas the Great. An additional auction highlight included a previously unpublished and unrecorded Safavid fragment from a once truly magnificent Kirman ‘Vase’ carpet woven in the first half of the 17th century, which sold for £562,500 / $772,875 / €659,250.”