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Notes on Harold and Melissa Keshishian

 
Hagop Manoyan Antique RugsNazmiyal Antique Rugs

The Keshishian Alpan Fragment.The Keshishian Alpan Fragment. Harold and Melissa Keshishian are avid collectors whose collection now exceeds 700 rugs and carpets. Harold Keshishian was one of the first recipients of the prestigious Joseph V. McMullan Award and is on the Board of the Near Eastern Art Research Center and is Trustee Emeritus at the Textile Museum. Harold has two books to his credit "Rugs of the Caucasus" in 1968 and "Treasures of the Caucasus" in 1993. Melissa for years conducted the seminar on carpet restoration held annually at the Textile Museum . The Keshishians live in upper Northwest section of the District of Columbia and on heir farm along the Potomac river in Poolesville Maryland.

Harold in front of George Hewitt Myers' portrait (with a former employee of the Textile Museum).

Once upon a time the Textile Museum was a very different place. For a time it was the center of the world for the study of Oriental Carpets. Then times change and the old standbys drop away. In a sad way Harold is one of the very last of the old Textile Museum crowd left.

I do not mean this is a negative way towards the staff or the museum. They found it necessary to change and with change new things replace the old. The museum has not done an important publication on Oriental rugs in years and there are times when one can visit the Textile Museum and see virtually no carpets. The Textile Museum Journal is still a wonderfully important publication it just no longer gives space to Oriental Rugs very often if at all.

Keshishian, Harold M. Rugs of The Caucasus, Washington DC: Arts Club of Washington, 1967



A very different catalogue and show because it focused on rugs in use rather than rugs in collections. The show dealt with Caucasian rugs in use in Washington homes. This gives an interesting glimpse of the use of rugs in 1967.

Keshishian, Harold M. The Treasure of The Caucasus: Rugs from American Collection, Washington DC: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1992

Schurmann, Ulrich. Caucasian Rugs. Poolesville: Old 99 Associates (Harold and Melissa Keshishian). 1963




A very nice book with 48 color plates one of which Harold says is bad. I looked and can’t find the bad one. Besides 47 good pictures there is a good structural analysis of each rug. I wish more books would include structure. By the way plate 30 is an Alpan fragment from Harold’s collection. Certain people laughed at him when he bought it asking "why do you want that rag?" After he got it cleaned up no one laughed anymore. It has perhaps the best natural vegetal yellow dye I have ever seen.

Schurmann, Ulrich. Caucasian Rugs. Poolesville: Old 99 Associates (Harold and Melissa Keshishian). 1963.

Hubel, Reinhard G. The Book of Carpets. 1964, Accokeek MD, Washington International Associates (Harold and Melissa Keshishian), 1971.




This is the book that defines Caucasian Carpets and Rugs. If you are interested in Caucasian rugs you must have this book. Ulrich Schurmann

Hubel, Reinhard G. The Book of Carpets. 1964, Accokeek MD, Washington International Associates (Harold and Melissa Keshishian), 1971.

1971 English edition of the German classic. Reinhard Hubel's book is a valuable resource. This is a great classic. A comprehensive general guide to Oriental rugs. This is my favorite general rug book and the one I use first when I am trying to attribute a rug. For a rug collector there is no reason not to have a copy. The only thing I am not crazy about with this book is that knot counts are in Square Decimeters. Use a factor of 16 for approximate knots per square inch. 100 Knots per square inch is about 1600 knots per square decimeter. 3200 knots per square decimeter is about 200 knots per square inch. Hubel gives very good structural descriptions on about 300 rugs and carpet. If you own 5 books on rugs this should be one of them. General Rug Book. Lib.

Mackie, Louise & Dr. Jon Thompson. Turkmen. Washington DC: Textile Museum, 1980. 9 x 12, 95 CP, 117 b/w.





(The cover was designed by Harold Keshishian)

Sotheby's Auctions Fine Oriental and European Carpets lot 67

Sale NY7430

lot 67 (240 lots in this auction)
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A Caucasian blossom gallery carpet,
18th century
cut and reduced in length at one end, rewoven areas, repiled areas, new fringes one end, reselvaged, oxidized browns,
approximately 17ft. 8in. by 8ft. 2in. (5.38 by 2.49m.)
Exhibited:
"The Treasure of the Caucasus - Rugs from American Collections," Norton Gallery and School of Art, Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida, 1993.
Literature:
Keshishian, Harold M., ed., The Treasure of the Caucasus, Washington, DC, 1993, pl.2.
Citations:
Ellis, Charles Grant, Early Caucasian Rugs, Washington, D.C., 1976, p.78.
Ellis, Charles Grant, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, p.145.
Belonging to a distinct and unusual subgroup of classical Caucasian Blossom carpets with bold e



LOCATION ESTIMATE AUCTION DATE

New York 25,000—35,000 USD Session 1
16 Feb 00 10:15 AM


Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 26,450 USD

purchase catalogue


Click here to view a key to letter symbols (H, s, l, n, etc.).





DESCRIPTION
A Caucasian blossom gallery carpet,
18th century
cut and reduced in length at one end, rewoven areas, repiled areas, new fringes one end, reselvaged, oxidized browns,
approximately 17ft. 8in. by 8ft. 2in. (5.38 by 2.49m.)
Exhibited:
"The Treasure of the Caucasus - Rugs from American Collections," Norton Gallery and School of Art, Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida, 1993.
Literature:
Keshishian, Harold M., ed., The Treasure of the Caucasus, Washington, DC, 1993, pl.2.
Citations:
Ellis, Charles Grant, Early Caucasian Rugs, Washington, D.C., 1976, p.78.
Ellis, Charles Grant, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, p.145.
Belonging to a distinct and unusual subgroup of classical Caucasian Blossom carpets with bold endless repeats of rosettes or lozenges issuing bold curved lancet leaves and elongated cypress trees of which at least another 12 examples are known. Other closely related carpets include two red ground carpets, one in the Textile Museum, Washington, inv. no. R 36.2.4, illustrated as pl.24, pp.78-9, Ellis, C. G. ibid, and a fragment in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, inv. no. 43-40-74; and a blue ground example in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection in Virginia. Another example, formerly with Beshar & Company, New York, was sold at Sotheby's, New York, April 15th, 1993 as lot 34. A variant of this classification with two rather than three ivory eight pointed stars and inscribed with the date AH 1156/1734 AD, is in the Trk ve Islm Museum, Istanbul, inv. No. 742, see: Yetkin, Serare, Early Caucasian Carpets in Turkey, Volume I, London, 1978, pl.24.
Unlike most related carpets in this group whose bold reciprocal borders or guard stripes are more obviously attributable to Shusha production in the Karabagh province the present lot exhibits an undulating 'S' vine border more usually associated with the Dragon carpets of the same period.
The source of this Blossom design is commonly associated with that of Caucasian textiles of the same period such as a late 17th century Azerbaijan embroidery in the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., inv. no. 2.18; see: Wearden, J., "A Synthesis of Contrasts", Hali 59, London, 1991, pl.5, p.105.
For a full discussion of this group see: Kirchheim, E. H. (ed.), Orient Stars, Franses, Michael, the Influences of Safavid Persian Art Upon an Ancient Tribal Culture, Stuttgart, 1993, p.107.
A Caucasian blossom gallery carpet,
18th century
cut and reduced in length at one end, rewoven areas, repiled areas, new fringes one end, reselvaged, oxidized browns,
approximately 17ft. 8in. by 8ft. 2in. (5.38 by 2.49m.)
Exhibited:
"The Treasure of the Caucasus - Rugs from American Collections," Norton Gallery and School of Art, Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida, 1993.
Literature:
Keshishian, Harold M., ed., The Treasure of the Caucasus, Washington, DC, 1993, pl.2.
Citations:
Ellis, Charles Grant, Early Caucasian Rugs, Washington, D.C., 1976, p.78.
Ellis, Charles Grant, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, p.145.
Belonging to a distinct and unusual subgroup of classical Caucasian Blossom carpets with bold endless repeats of rosettes or lozenges issuing bold curved lancet leaves and elongated cypress trees of which at least another 12 examples are known. Other closely related carpets include two red ground carpets, one in the Textile Museum, Washington, inv. no. R 36.2.4, illustrated as pl.24, pp.78-9, Ellis, C. G. ibid, and a fragment in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, inv. no. 43-40-74; and a blue ground example in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection in Virginia. Another example, formerly with Beshar & Company, New York, was sold at Sotheby's, New York, April 15th, 1993 as lot 34. A variant of this classification with two rather than three ivory eight pointed stars and inscribed with the date AH 1156/1734 AD, is in the Trk ve Islm Museum, Istanbul, inv. No. 742, see: Yetkin, Serare, Early Caucasian Carpets in Turkey, Volume I, London, 1978, pl.24.
Unlike most related carpets in this group whose bold reciprocal borders or guard stripes are more obviously attributable to Shusha production in the Karabagh province the present lot exhibits an undulating 'S' vine border more usually associated with the Dragon carpets of the same period.
The source of this Blossom design is commonly associated with that of Caucasian textiles of the same period such as a late 17th century Azerbaijan embroidery in the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., inv. no. 2.18; see: Wearden, J., "A Synthesis of Contrasts", Hali 59, London, 1991, pl.5, p.105.
For a full discussion of this group see: Kirchheim, E. H. (ed.), Orient Stars, Franses, Michael, the Influences of Safavid Persian Art Upon an Ancient Tribal Culture, Stuttgart, 1993, p.107.

For Further Reading:


Thanks and best wishes,

J. Barry O'Connell Jr.

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