Presentation of the Child in the Temple
National Museum of Ancient Art
Active between 1514‒1565
Oil on oak panel
H: 140cm, W: 95.5cm
Portugal, unknown location
The production of knotted carpets in Portugal has been documented since the 14th century, mostly in association with the Moorish community. With the expulsion of the Muslims and Jews in 1496 by King Manuel I (1469‒1521; r.1495‒1521), the Portuguese carpet workshops were inevitably abandoned and the manufacturing tradition was lost. Aside from local production, Portuguese consumers imported high-quality items as well. This ensured the supply of luxury goods to the wealthier clientele. Despite that Spanish carpets were esteemed throughout the 15th century, according to representations in paintings, by the second quarter of the 16th century, they were replaced by Ottoman carpets produced in the regions of Anatolia and Uşak.
Although, surprisingly, there are no surviving examples of this type of carpet in Portugal, its presence in paintings, as well as in other documentary sources such as in inventories, confirms their presence in Portuguese interiors, thus enabling us to identify the patterns and original colours of the imported carpets. This is the case with this painting, where a Turkish carpet, placed on the floor near the altar, displays most probably a “small-pattern Holbein” design: it comprises a repeated pattern of alternating quatrefoils and octagonal medallions, with kufic script motifs represented in detail on the red border.
Technical information provided by José Alberto Seabra de Carvalho
Transferred from the Convent of Santa Joana, Lisbon, Portugal, at an unknown date
Stylistic analysis and material dating
Hallett, Jessica and Pereira, Teresa Pacheco, The Oriental Carpet in Portugal: Carpets and paintings, 15th‒18th centuries, Lisbon: MNAA, 2007.
Ana Kol "Presentation of the Child in the Temple" in [Discover Carpet Art] , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;DCA;pt;Mus31_D;24;en&id=paintings
Prepared by: Ana Kol
Translation by: Lily Chadwick
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT1_024