National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Europe and the Islamic World

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Sebastiano del Piombo
Venetian, 1485 - 1547
Cardinal Bandinello Sauli, His Secretary, and Two Geographers
oil on panel transferred to canvas, 121.8 x 150.4 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Image: Sebastiano del Piombo
Cardinal Bandinello Sauli, His Secretary, and Two Geographers, 1516
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1961.9.37

The table in Cardinal Bandinello Sauli's portrait is a display of personal symbols. His name on the Sanctus bell rung at Mass emphasizes his vocation and the open geographical text his intellectual interests. The "Lotto" carpet symbolizes his wealth, elite social status, and refined artistic taste. Its twisted fringes indicate minimal wear. Italians usually kept their best carpets in chests, displaying them on special occasions.

This is the earliest known depiction of this particular Turkish carpet pattern. In the nineteenth century, carpet patterns were named after various European artists who had painted them with meticulous detail. Venetian Lorenzo Lotto depicted the field pattern on Sauli's carpet twice, once framed by similar borders. Other carpet patterns were named after Hans Holbein and Hans Memling.

Compare the carpet in Sebastiano's painting with the one depicted on the ledge in the foreground in Lotto's The Alms-Giving of St. Anthony of Padua and a 16th-century Turkish carpet.

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