The New England Rug Society
A community of rug and textile lovers
The New England Rug Society (NERS) began in the 1980s, growing to be one of the largest and most active rug societies in the US. The resources for those interested in rugs and textiles expanded in the early 2000s, with a set of themed online exhibitions still available and enjoyable today. Starting in 2020, NERS began offering webinars that have been very popular, and extended the NERS community around the world. Now, NERS has members in ten different countries and growing, and recent webinars have typically drawn attendees from 30-50 countries. So wherever you’re from, enjoy the resources of our website, participate in our activities, and join the group!
Piece by Piece It Disappeared: Reconstructing the Chehel Sotun Carpet with Maggie Squires of The Courthauld Institute on February 10, 2024 at 1PM Eastern Time
Maggie Squires’ webinar will focus on a massive carpet woven in the Deccan for the Chehel Sotun palace in Isfahan in the 17th century. The carpet was cut up and sold piece by piece from the palace in the late 19th century, and the fragments are now distributed across at least 11 collections across the world. Maggie’s research traces the history of the carpet and uses digital methods to virtually reconstruct the complete carpet based on archival evidence, historical descriptions, and physical examination of the fragments. The reconstruction has implications for our understanding of Safavid palaces and their furnishings in the 17th century and the artistic exchanges between Iran and the Deccan at that time.
A fascinating tale of Alberto Boralevi’s forty years of hunting in Italy for carpets existing in museum storage or in holdings of ancient aristocratic families.
Carpet scholars have paid little attention to Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819–1902) or Denman Waldo Ross (1853–1935), in large part because neither man considered his collection a means to impress others or enhance his own prestige.
Denman Ross’s collection, which included more important fragments than intact rugs, was displayed neither in his home nor in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where it was housed. Instead, Ross used his fragments and other objects he donated to the MFA as teaching tools, to explain to his students his theories of design.
In all probability, Henri Marquand never thought his carpets constituted a collection. Their function, and that of his other furnishings, was to provide an aesthetically pleasing environment for him, his family, and his close friends. Few individuals outside that select group knew the rugs existed until after Marquand’s death, when they, with his other treasures, were sold at public auction, and the prices realized bore testimony to their quality.
The time to acknowledge Ross and Marquand as important carpet collectors is long overdue. Each of them owned numerous beautiful and historically important rugs and fragments that deserve the attention of all of us who appreciate carpet art.
All Tradition is Change: Scandinavian Peasant Textiles 1750-1900
From the middle of the 18th until the middle of the 19th century, a tradition of art weaving flourished among the peasantry of southern Sweden, particularly in the Skåne region. Utilizing an array of weaving and embroidery techniques, women in farming households produced textiles that marked holidays and life transitions, while providing festive decoration and enhancing their family’s status.
In addition to highlighting the beauty of these textiles, and some comparative examples from Norway and Finland, the presentation will place this tradition in the context of the economic, social, and sometimes individual, history of the weavers. The rise and fall (and subsequent revival) of this peasant art form illustrates that “all tradition is change”.
We’re an informal group of many differing backgrounds and pursuits, all of us with a common focus: an intense appreciation of — and an ongoing curiosity about — antique oriental rugs and ethnographic textiles. Our members range from internationally known collectors to rank beginners. The only prerequisite to being welcomed as a member is an appreciation for the art form and a willingness to learn and share.
Join NERS and gain access to our growing archive of rug and textile webinars. Members also receive a copy of our latest newsletter via email, and of course, all members are invited to attend our in-person programs as well as our annual picnic.
Newsletter & Online Exhibitions
Titled View from the Fringe, our newsletter provides members with information regarding scheduled NERS events, upcoming textile exhibits, conferences, auctions as well as a summary of the previous meeting’s presentation.
Starting in 2002, the New England Rug Society introduced a series of online exhibitions showcasing pieces from member collections. There are currently 6 exhibitions available. Please enjoy a visit to our online galleries!