The kilims known as ‘Bessarabian’ were woven in the Russian regions of Ukraine and Moldavia. Intended to satisfy the demands of the Russian aristocracy at a time when Continental interiors were particularly in vogue, these flatweaves were commissioned to urban workshops, which often had the organisation necessary to be able to produce carpets of such sophisticated design and fineness of execution. Indeed by the beginning of the 19th century a few carpet workshops were already set up around St Petersburg. Yet at the same time the magic of Bessarabian kilims lies in their synthesis of folk art and courtly refinement. Bessarabian flatweaves are distinguished from western urban weavings in that the designs have a much less formal character, such as in this example. Here, the floral sprays of rose bouquets are stylistically drawn so as to seem more closely related to the local and more traditional vernacular. This elegant balance between the noble and the poor, between grace and force, makes these unique flatweaves among the most sought after decorative carpets.