A rare and magnificent Millefleur ‘star-lattice’ carpet dating to late 17th/early 18th century Mughal India sold for £4,786,500 at Christie’s today [October 8, 2013]. One of only 12 Millefleur carpets from this illustrious time in Mughal India, this carpet was once owned by American industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt and remained in his family for over a century. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries the carpet looms of the Mughal dynasty in India produced many of the most magnificent carpets extant today. These beautiful carpets were originally woven to adorn the palaces of the Mughal Indian aristocracy, but through Dutch, Portuguese and English trading companies they quickly became highly sought after objects by wealthy Europeans. With the rise of industrial wealth in the United States in the second half of the 19th century, many of the new American millionaires began to emulate the collecting tastes of earlier European aristocracy. Along with collecting early furniture and old master paintings, these wealthy Americans avidly acquired magnificent early carpets. During this period, many 16th, 17th and 18th century Safavid Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Mughal Indian carpets entered the collections of the most prominent Americans such as J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick and Benjamin Altman. Among this esteemed group with a passion for rare, early carpets was Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who acquired this carpet for his palatial mansion at 1 West 57th Street in New York City.
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