Museo Poldi Pezzoli organized a precious exhibition - open from 23 May to 1 September - to celebrate the return of one of its most important artworks after remarkable restoration work: its 16th century Safavid Persian carpet, known to all as the “Tiger” carpet.
The exhibition, curated by Michael Franses, research fellow for important museums, introduces the public to the historical context in which the precious carpet, personally acquired by Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli in a private auction in 1855, was made. Manufactured in central Iran around 450 years ago, this artifact is a rare example of the carpets made for Safavid Shah Tahmasp's royal court, whose great dynasty ruled Persia from 1525 to 1576, surviving today in Italy. It is also one of only two carpets dating from this period that made it intact to today, despite several restorations in the past, and that are preserved in Italian museums today - surprisingly enough, both items are housed by Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
In Persian culture, carpets are often representations of the Garden of Eden, and this particular example, so densely populated by lively animals and wild beasts, really becomes a portal to the heavenly garden. The verses included in the carpet's bordure say that the carpet was created for the feets of 'the world's Darius', probably referring to Shah Tahmasp himself.
This exhibition The Garden of Paradise in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum 'Tiger' Carpet and in 16th Century Persian Carpets becomes an occasion for allowing the public to view an extraordinarily rare and precious artifact, made of wool, silk and silver thread (formerly gilded). Recent studies related this item with the famous carpets of the Ardabil Mosque, preserved at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art today.
In order to preserve this precious artifact, the Museum's director, in accordance with Superintendent for Fine Arts in Lombardy, commissioned Luisella Belleri - whose company Open Care specialises in integrated services for the management, development and conservation of artistic heritage - with a complex and delicate restoration. The result of this operation will be presented to the public together with the famous early 16th century 'Hunting carpet' (the other previously mentioned entirely intact Safavid carpet), a property of the Pinacoteca di Brera but loaned to the Poldi Pezzoli Museum since 1923, as well as other extraordinary 16th century carpets and fragments from public collections, such as Museo Nazionale del Bargello and Museo Stefano Bardini, Florence, as well as private collections, among which Gallery Moshe Tabibnia.
Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli
23 May -1 September 2014