Antique Irish Donegal Carpet

Rug #2094
Size: 500 x 385 cm / 16.4 x 12.6 ft
Handwoven in: 
Categories:   ,

A Rare and Fine Donegal Carpet, Ireland

Circa 1880

The pale blue field with an all over design of small flower heads issuing cruciform leaves framed by curvilinear scrolling leaves, supported by small star flower heads, within a caramel border enclosing red scrolling vines linking palmettes issuing pomegranates

Handmade wool carpets classified as Irish Donegal carpets were produced in the town of Killybegs in County Donegal, Ireland, as a trade mark brand, named Donegal Carpets. The business was founded in 1898 by Alexander Morton, whose name is synonymous as a Pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement established in the last quarter of the 19th Century. The creation of hand-made carpets in Donegal boasts an ancient tradition, and as such, Morton, who had first set up a carpet crafting house on the West coast of Ireland, capitalised on the experienced Donegal weavers and put into practice their established techniques considering they had been working effectively with wool for generations. Gothic and ancient ‘Celtic’ tradition form a significant and important part of the Donegal design repertoire, with carpets displaying unique previously unseen styles of design incorporating Celtic, Gothic and Middle Eastern inspired motifs and patterns to create highly decorative carpets which suited the vernacular orientation of the popular Arts and Crafts style of interior decoration. This Irish Donegal carpet presents a highly individual decorative carpet.  The pale blue background displays an all over multi directional pattern with a small red and ochre flower head issuing ochre leaves in a cruciform orientation, each of these elements framed within sets of four curled ochre leaves, and then repeated to form an all over design. The pattern motifs are inspired by both Middle Eastern and Gothic styles of ornamentation. Each element defined by either dark green or charcoal outlining. Small red and ochre star motifs in fill the repeat design. The caramel border displays a magnificent flowing design with gothic style scrolls issuing pomegranates. The pomegranate is an intriguing addition, and although associated with Neo Classicism which in turn is normally contrary to Gothic principals. However, much of the Gothic style evolved from Neo Classicism.

This Donegal carpet is an artistic triumph in true individual Irish Donegal carpet tradition, combining established Arts and Crafts influences. It clearly responds to the fashion of the times, epitomised by the Principals of the ‘Arts and Crafts’ Movement. The carpet is woven with fine wool, with an amazing range of complementary colours. This is rare and highly decorative example of Irish Donegal carpet production at its best.