While we may think of geometric rugs as a modern fashion statement, they actually trace their roots to the geometric patterns on the floors and walls of buildings going back to ancient Greece and Rome. In coming weeks I shall post photographs I took in 2004 of geometric patterns in historic buildings along the Silk Road of Central Asia. But today we will look at geometric patterns in Italian Renaisssance art and architecture that shows the influence of Classical Greece and Rome. These beautiful patterns have inspired and informed many of Asmara’s geometric rugs.
1. The Lower Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Assisi was completed in 1230. It is the mother church of the Franciscan Order and one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Italy and a UNESCO world heritage site. I love the blocks of different geometric patterns laid out next to each other in stone on the floor. The squares on the top left and top right would make great geometric rugs.
2. The Upper Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Assisi. The stone floor pattern can be recognized in today’s geometric rugs.
3. The School of Athens is considered Raphael’s masterpiece. It was painted between 1510 and 1511 as part of a commission to decorate the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican with frescoes. The pattern of squares on the floor, the Greek key pattern on the arch in the foreground and the coffered ceiling pattern in the arches in the center of the fresco have all inspired geometric rugs.
4. St Francis preaches in the presence of pope Honorius III painted by Giotto sometime between 1296 and 1304 in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The intricate geometric pattern on the wall or on a tent wall provides a jumping off point for a geometric rug.
5. Isaac rejects Esau painted by Giotto sometime between 1296 and 1304 in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The intricate geometric pattern on the wall has influenced geometric rugs for a hundred years.