With last year's monumental sale of the Clark Sickle Leaf rug for $29 million, it became clear that antique rugs could achieve the same status as great art.
This week, as part of Asia Week New York, rug dealer Peter Pap—who was the under bidder at the Sotheby's sale—has curated an exhibition and sale of 100 important 19th century antique village and nomadic prayer and large-scale rugs, textiles and saddle covers from Turkey, the Caucasus and Persia, all carefully compiled over 40 years by eight serious rug collectors from around the country.
“I think designers should think of the fact that some of their clients are spending far, far more on art than these rugs cost, and many of these rugs approach best-of-type, and in art, best-of-type is pretty much out of reach,” said Pap. “One rug with great color, used as an accent in a room either on the floor or the wall can warm up an otherwise neutral environment.”
The rugs featured in this exhibition have undergone three levels of scrutiny and connoisseurship since they were originally purchased by the dealer, who sold them to the collector, explained Pap. “There are many, many rugs in the market that the untrained eye will think do not look much different then these, but several criteria have been met with these that would not be with the majority of rugs out there.”
Daghestan Prayer Rug
Highlights of the exhibition include an early 19th century Daghestan prayer rug from the collection of Christopher Emmet, who lives in Far Hills, NJ, and has a large and important collection. Pap says it is finer and earlier than most Caucasusian rugs he has ever come across. The Emmet collection was carefully put together over 30 years and many rugs were top auction lots acquired with Pap’s input. The Chi Chi prayer rug from the same collection is recognized as one of the best of its type and set an auction record when it sold.
Chi Chi Prayer Rug Caucasus and Turkish Bergama Rug
The exhibition is on view through March 30 at the Kentshire Galleries (Madison & 62nd Street) on the fourth floor. In addition, all of the rugs are available for designers and collectors to purchase on 1stdibs.
“What started out at age 20 as just a job as a stock boy in a rug store in Boston, quickly grew into a serious interest in older rugs,” said Pap. “As I delved to the bottom of the stacks, I found rugs that had been sold by the proprietor's father in the 1920's. The tribal and village rugs, with their vibrancy and sense of individuality, quickly won me over.”