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Renowned expert says art world momentum intensifies interest in collectible antique rugs
Antique Persian Dorasht,(4-4 X 5-6) from the second half, 18th century. This museum-level piece is an exceptional representative of Persian carpet weaving from more than two centuries ago with a one-in-the-world color palette and design. It was placed through Claremont Rug Company's Bostonian Collection, Fall 2012.

OAKLAND, CA.- Jan David Winitz, an eminent art dealer who specializes in antique Oriental and Persian rugs, today revealed that he had told his central clients that momentum within the art world for Near Eastern art has intensified the interest and created an increased enthusiasm among connoisseurs in this niche of the collecting market.

“My first observation is that we are in the midst of an important confluence of events,” said Winitz, author of ‘The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug,’ “ that has become a bellwether for those of us for whom rugs from the “Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving,” is a passion.”

Pointing to the late 2011 opening of New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new gallery of Islamic Art as the key event, the president and founder of Claremont Rug Company said that art collectors have intensified their interest in rugs from “The Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving,” the important period generally recognized as ca 1800 to ca 1910 when the artistry and skills of the ancient art were still at their height.

Winitz’s full review has been provided to clients in an annual communication and various conversations. However, he said, because of the increased interest in “best-of-the-best,” collectible 19th century rugs, he was providing his thoughts about the market to the broader art world.

Winitz also pointed to opening of a major permanent exhibition of Near Eastern Art at the Louvre this past summer. As well, he noted an important Near Eastern art collection newly on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and another soon to be opened at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

“Added to this, in 2012 the de Young Museum in San Francisco began to display antique Turkish, Caucasian and Persian kilim rugs from its extensive McCoy Jones Collection of antique Oriental carpets for the first time in two decades,” he said.

Connoisseur collectors of art continue to be assertive in the market. As Jerry Hourihan, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for U.S. Personal Lines of AIG, recently told Private Wealth Magazine:

“While people are still holding off from purchasing additional homes or larger yachts, they’ve begun to buy collectibles again, like antique cars, vintage wine, jewelry and artwork.

“In the last two or three years, in those sections of collectibles, we’ve seen strong results and faster growth than in the rest of our portfolios,” he says. “Clients have said anecdotally that they feel more comfortable investing in things they’re passionate about and already have experience investing in.”

Winitz concurred, “Our own acquisition of ‘The Bostonian Collection,’ a trove of 180 antique Persian rugs assembled by three generations of a New England-based family over more than a century of collecting, was an important international event and was aggressively pursued by serious collectors.”

Winitz, who created Claremont Rug Company in 1980, believes that the current interest in historically important items is reshaping the international market for rare 19th century Persian carpets. He says “as this stunning art form has ascended the art radar, collectors have concentrated many of the most sublime pieces in privately held collections, making stellar antique Persian rugs increasingly difficult to find on the International market.”

The interest in Near Eastern art has also been the subject of feature stories in the Arts and Antiques, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. “For those of us who have been collecting rare antique rugs for generations,” said Winitz, “2012 is confirmation of our long-held belief of the artistic merit and collectability of this art segment.”

Art historians have pointed out that for more than a millennium rug weavers were inspired to capture the multitudinous colors of the natural world to use in their abstracted patterns, as the early Modernists of Western art have done over the past 150 years. The result is that over the past two years there has been a trend by art collectors to hang collectible antique rugs as wall art. This is particularly true for rugs from the Caucasus Mountains and Persian village and city weaving centers such as Bakshaish, Laver Kirman and Ferahan Sarouk, Winitz said.

“This is an apt form of display for Caucasian tribal and Persian village rugs that were studied by and provided inspiration to European modernists such as Matisse and to the Bauhaus artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky,” he said.

Highly respected Persian art carpet designs include the Laver Kirman from Southwest Persia, and the Hadji Jalili Tabriz, named after a master carpet designer in Northwest Persia in the 19th century.

“These 19th century Oriental rug weavers, inhabitants of a pre-electronic age, unknowingly bestowed a gift on future generations whose lives they could not possibly have imagined -- lives besieged and distracted by information overload. The message of their art is that there is truth to be found beneath the surface of things,” according to Winitz.

In 2010, Winitz wrote in the Chubb Collector’s Newsletter about, “a trend I have witnessed during the 40 years I have been collecting 19th century Oriental rugs is dramatically escalating at this time. While there is still a supply of 19th century decorative-level carpets on the international market, art-level antique, rugs in extremely good condition typically become available only when families divest long-held collections.”

An example of this is our “Bostonian Collection,” which contained many carpets which would have “appeared in the rug literature” had they not been held by a single family for nearly a century. “Many of the rugs were bought at the source in the Near East in the 19th century and had not been seen outside the family until we acquired them,” Winitz said.

A video review of some of the pieces in “The Bostonian Collection” can be accessed by pasting into a browser.

Winitz sees a growing recognition of this artistic medium that is resonating deeply with discerning artists and art collectors. He said, “However, I firmly believe that the best art-level 19th century rugs occasionally found today will not be available to the next generation at any price.”

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