Critic’s Notebook: LACMA’s magical Ardabil Carpet

Now’s your chance: The breathtaking Ardabil Carpet, an incomparable 16th-century masterpiece that ranks among the greatest works in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection, is on view at the museum through Labor Day. It’s the centerpiece to “Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Court,” one of LACMA’s big summer shows.

This is just the fifth time the carpet has been displayed since its 1965 museum debut.

Specialists regard the Ardabil Carpet to be one of the two greatest Persian rugs ever woven. The other is its matching twin, now in the collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The 19th-century English Arts and Crafts designer William Morris, who led the campaign for the V&A to acquire its rug in 1893, said it was “of singular perfection” — and LACMA’s is often regarded as the finer of the two.

Not being a specialist, I can’t say; but I can say “Wow.”


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