National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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Moretto da Brescia
Brescian, 1498 - 1554
Portrait of a Lady in White
c. 1540, oil on canvas, 106.4 x 87.6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Image: Moretto da Brescia
Portrait of a Lady in White, c. 1540
Samuel H. Kress Collection

Her fussily pretentious dress and jewelry suggest Moretto's lady may have lived in the provincial Veneto. But like the urban rich, she was the proud owner of a fine Turkish carpet. Small rectangular and square "table carpets" were particularly prized. Shown here is the top of what has come to be called a prayer rug. The pointed arch, with a lamp's chain suspended in the center, refers to a mihrab, the niche in a mosque wall that orients prayer toward Mecca. Renaissance inventories describe them as "mosque carpets." Their size made them practical in both cultures. Muslims carried them to prayer, and Italians displayed them on furniture.

Compare the prayer rug in Moretto's painting with a prayer rug from Turkey.

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