Near East

The department of art from the Near East contains works from pre-Islamic antiquity as well as from the epoch following Islamisation.

Older focuses are the Near Eastern Luristan bronzes and Egyptian textiles, with seals from Mesopotamia and artworks from ancient Egypt representing two smaller groups. These are joined by individual works from the Mediterranean which include the famous large limestone sculpture of a woman from Cyprus.

The Luristan collection of the Museum Rietberg which consists of232 bronzes – works which were produced between the 1st and 3rd millennium BC – was created thanks to gifts from Rudolph Schmidt and Eduard von der Heydt and represents a rare stroke of good fortune. Worth noting, too, is the collection of Egyptian (late antique, Coptic and Islamic) textiles from the period between the 4th and 12th centuries.

More recent focuses are the collection of some 160 carpets and almost 80 textiles, together with a small number of outstanding examples from the rich tradition of Persian book art between the 14th and 18th centuries – including several folios from important Shahnameh manuscripts – and individual examples of exquisite Islamic calligraphy.

Along with some carpets formerly in the possession of Eduard von der Heydt, more than 50 pieces from the former collection of Robert Akeret (1881−1972) form the core of the carpet department. In 1988, the collection of Erwin and Hilde Luck with some 80 pieces was added.

The most recent addition is the excellent collection of Emil Alpiger (born 1841) who worked for the firm of Ziegler & Co. in Iran and collected textiles in a wide range of styles from the later Qajar period (c. 1850 to 1896).