Tile picture of a Cuenca carpet
Honolulu, Hawai'i, United States of America
Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
M G Montalvan, Ceramica Artistica, Fuana
L: 300cm, W: 300cm
An unusual “carpet,” this panel consists of 484 underglaze-painted tiles which together form the picture of a Cuenca carpet. The panel was probably intended as flooring, a kind of al fresco carpet which, when set into the ground, would add colour, pattern, and interest to an outdoor setting. Tiles would be decidedly more durable in inclement weather than a wool or silk carpet.
In shades of blue, yellow, green and manganese on a white ground, the panel has a shield at centre bounded by the phrase "Ave Maria Gracia Plena Dominus Tecun." The shield is surrounded by a series of borders: the deepest interior border has mirrored, inverted, and repeated foliate scrolls; the outer borders feature patterned triangle, diamond, and oval motifs in a continuous repeat.
Made about 1921, the tile panel’s design derives from a genuine Spanish carpet probably made in the 17th century. It is not known if the tile maker worked from the historic carpet itself or a photographic reproduction of it. An extant black and white image of the original carpet confirms the tile picture closely resembles the source. It is unclear, however, if the colours mimic it. A comparison between the two reveals that the tile maker opted to standardize colour usage across the tiles, whereas the carpet was woven with more variation.
The tile picture was one of two that made its way to Florida, where it later came into the hands of Berberyan Galleries. Each shows a Cuenca carpet, although not the same carpet. Doris Duke purchased both panels for her home Shangri La, in Honolulu. Neither was used as flooring, but instead were wall mounted similar to hanging textiles. Later, Duke had one panel shipped to her home Rough Point in Newport, Rhode Island where it remains today. Ceramic may be an unusual vehicle for the display of the Cuenca aesthetic, but it was an aesthetic Duke adored. She purchased several Cuenca carpets for her collection, including a massive 17th century one for Shangri La’s Living Room.
Purchased by Doris Duke from Berberyan Galleries (Palm Beach), May 1937
Sharon Tomlinson, Bethany Bannister-Andrews "Tile picture of a Cuenca carpet" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;us;Mus31;2;en
Prepared by: Sharon Tomlinson, Bethany Bannister-Andrews
MWNF Working Number: US1_002