The Carpet and the Connoisseur
The Carpet and the Connoisseur: The James F. Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs
by Walter B. Denny with Thomas J. Farnham

Following several years of extensive research, conservation, and photographs, Saint Louis Art Museum’s major 2016 exhibition highlights 50 carpets and two Persian pleasure tents assembled by one of the most important early twentieth-century American carpet collectors, James E. Ballard. The unique contents of the collection, outstanding quality of many of the rugs, and detailed technical content make this book a major contribution to the study of Islamic textile and the field of Islamic art history as a whole. The compelling visual nature of the pieces will appeal to the art historians, rug collectors, and the general public alike.

Three Cairene rugs, a Spanish rug, and examples of “Lotto” and small-pattern “Holbein” carpets, all important examples of works from the late-15th and 16th centuries, as well as two 19th-century Persian pleasure tents that were used for outdoor gatherings are included.

The textiles featured in this exhibition and catalogue are organized according to geographical origin and style, with brief introductions by Denny that provide more detailed art historical context for each group. All items have full catalogue entries, full color illustrations, and front and back details showing technical features. Ballard Collection rugs in the Museum’s inventory that are not exhibited are included with a color reproduction and technical data.

During the early 20th century, St. Louis businessman James F. Ballard collected Anatolian carpets from provincial centers in Turkey at a time when most other rug connoisseurs were acquiring the classical Persian. He was the first Oriental carpet enthusiast to acknowledge the importance of Turkish influence on the history of the pile carpet. Ballard ultimately divided his collection of carpets between The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1922 and the Saint Louis Art Museum in 1929. Another group of carpets were added to the St. Louis collection through a later donation by his daughter, Nellie Ballard White, in 1972. As a result of these two gifts, the Museum has amassed a collection of Oriental rugs recognized as one of the most significant collections in the world.

240 pages; 240 images; 11 x 9 1/2 inches
Soft bound
Copyright 2016 Saint Louis Art Museum

Item #041983