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The Bernheimer Chair Sold at Sotheby’s, London

Consul Otto Bernheimer’s famous chair, an Italian Renaissance-style walnut armchair upholstered with parts of a 16th-century small-pattern Holbein carpet, sold in Sotheby’s London’s evening sale on 24 November 2015, lot 13, for £100,000 ($151,460), at the top of its estimate range.


The upholstery of ‘Holbein variant’ carpet fragments with large-pattern motifs in a small-pattern format is said to have come from a carpet once in the Palazzo Salvadore in Florence. Other fragments of the same carpet are in the Keir Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum. See HALI 177, pp.70-71.

Always one of the ‘iconic’ pieces in the Bernheimer family collection, the chair was included in the 1983 exhibition ‘The Eastern Carpet in the Western World from the 15th to 17th century’ at the Hayward Gallery in London at the time of the 1983 International Conference on Oriental Carpets, and again at Munich’s Jewish Museum in 2007/8 in ‘Die Kunst- und Antiquitatenfirma Bernheimer’. It was used as a papal throne, suitably covered in white and yellow silk, during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Munich in 1980.

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