Home > dennis dodds >RK Critiques dodds's letter of expertise: Part IV
Wed, Oct 10th, 2007 07:00:45 PM
Topic: RK Critiques dodds's letter of expertise: Part IV

Let’s continue where we left off:

“Both Franses and the author of the entry for the Austrian catalogue joined Mr. Ellis in pointing to Konya and the Turkmen in that region as the likely geographic origin and weavers of this rug.”

Although dodds cites the published references supporting his disjointed claim others, like franses and the author of the Austrian catalog, agree with his Konya provenance, he mentions them both as being subordinate to, and “joining” in with, Charles Ellis’s allegedly similar opinion.

However, dodds produces NO proof or reference to substantiate what exactly Ellis’s opinion was and, since Ellis is dead, there seems little chance at this point in time to query him concerning dodds’s allegation.

RK has pointed this out before and we do so once again only to reinforce this important point.

After all, the entire premise dodds’s letter of expertise to LACMA rests on the ‘idea’ the Konya region, and not Ushak, was the place the “bellini” was woven.

We have offered dodds, or anyone else, the opportunity to produce proof and to this day none has been forthcoming.

To us this implies dodds has nothing to support his claim Ellis ever seriously discussed his “bellini” rug.

We also believe it pertinent to reproduce what was actually said in the published references dodds mentions and will do so now, adding some of our comments to demonstrate his errors and fabrications in citing these references.

We already, several years ago, published the Austrian catalog entry on RugKazbah.com’s discussion board and will repost it here for convenience, along with franses’s hali review of the Bausback exhibition.

For readers who have not seen this, here is the URL where the Austrian catalog entry still remains online on RugKazbah.com:

First, the scan of the relevant pages of that catalog where the entry fortunately appears in both German and English. Below that, a transcription of the English text, since the photograph can not be reproduced large enough to facilitate reading online.

The floral border indicates the relationship to the inner border of Number 6 from this catalog.

The floral wreath laid around the central medallion of this piece seems to have been taken from the trellis-connected floral spray of the star Ushak field.

The starkly geometrised(sic), hooked, eight-cornered bands recall Bergamas. The octagonal rosettes and also the violet “elem” (supplementary border) point to central Anatolian Turcomans. Hence Konya is suggested as the provenance of this piece.

Such wide, ribbon-like borders for the mirhab are also seen in Seljuk carpets and on Timurid tiles. Here the Turcoman geometrical design again prevails over the floral style.
Dimand Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Herman III Von Konya bis Kokand 12/13.8
McMullan plate 96”

While it is apparent the author of this catalog entry does use the term “central Anatolian Turcomans”, this should not in any way support dodds’s regurgitating it more than twenty plus years later, as no one else has even mentioned it, let alone as a provenance for a Turkish Village rug supposedly made circa 1550-1650.

It should be perfectly clear this term is not a very valid one nor one to hang ones hat upon in trying to provenance a rug like the LACMA “bellini”.

However and regardless, an interesting question remains: Why did the author of the description for the “bellini”(Plate 7 in the Austrian catalog) title it “DOUBLE-NICHE USAK” and then, in the short description, mention a Konya provenance?

Perhaps this was rug-politics, or was it just confusion?

Whatever the rational, it doesn’t change the fact the “bellini” is not a central Anatolian rug, nor does it have any real connection to this mythic “central Antolian Turkmen” blah-blah provenance.

The “bellini” was quite positively made farther west, just as we have stated numerous times in the past.

In light of this, it is also interesting to note the cataloger compares the “bellini” to Plate 6, which is undoubtedly an Ushak weaving, as well as to Star Ushak rugs.

Here’s a scan of Plate 6 and, below that, a scan of a wonderful, and very early prototype, of the Star Ushak form:

One does not have to possess a genius IQ to see the more numerous relationships the “bellini” shares with Ushak area weavings, as compared to those from Konya or any other locale in central Anatolia.

RK will, we hope, soon learn who wrote the “bellini” entry for this catalog and question them about this confusion.

But for now two decades plus afterwards, it is sure dodds, or anyone else who might try, is on incredibly thin ice trying to float a central Anatolian provenance for this late, genre period reproduction “bellini”; not to mention proving dodds’s other pie-in-the-sky opinions.

RK believes it also might be enlightening to reproduce franses’s hali review of the rug after it appeared in the 1981 Bausback exhibition.

Here’s what franses wrote about the “bellini” back then:

“Equally interesting is the rug in figure 2(ed. figure two is a photo of the dodds/LACMA rug), attributed to 17th century Ushak. Examples of this rare family of early village rugs have survived mainly in fragmentary condition; by contrast the Bausbak example is almost complete, except possibly for a few row of knots at each end and some at the sides. The rug is superficially similar to small double- niche medallion rugs which are more likely to have been made as part of organized commercial production in the area although the central medallion of the Bausback rug is also found in a number of the latter type. It is interesting to note the minor borders are similar to the “column ladik” rugs which are now also believed to have been woven in the Ushak area, while the octagonal medallions at both ends of the field are also found in the McMullan and Volkmann rugs mentioned above. The tiny swastika in the blue green field border is a rare ornament although it also occurs in much the same form in one of the Seljuk carpets(footnote 5), while it is also instructive to compare the rug with an example published by S. Yetkin(footnote 6). Early west Anatolian rugs can not be clearly comprehended in isolation from the numerous examples extant in the Istanbul museums(footnote 7)”.

We will avoid commenting on franses’s opinion “column Ladik” rugs were made in Ushak, or showing the absurdity of comparing the LACMA “bellini” with the referenced far older and better rugs in the McMullan or Volkman collections.

We will also let slide his rather oblique reference to Seljuk rugs, which by the way, was surely the source for dodds’s similar name-dropping.

Instead, let’s concentrate on franses’s realistic idea the “bellini” rug was made in the Ushak area.

The fact the author of the Vienna catalog ignored this and confusingly mentions it, as well as a Konya provenance, is especially questionable, as franses’s review was written less than two years before.

RK has no answer for this one but we do place our belief, dodds’s 20 year later, off-the-wall idea of a Konya provenance, down to his desire to ‘re-define’ the “bellini” in hopes of convincing a buyer, any buyer, to purchase it.

Why else would he fly in the face of good reason and numerous statements to the contrary from previous author’s?

But let’s get back to dodds’s letter of expertise to LACMA:

“Certainly the two end panels, with their elegantly ornamented pentagonal medallions and deeply saturated purple dyes, hold clue to this claim. Too, the “wide ribbon-like borders for the mirhab are also seen in Seljuk carpets and on Timurid tiles”.”

Hello dodds, you hyperbolist, stating the amorphous elements in the rug’s end panels are Turkmen inspired is but another of your dumb-bell dodds-isms.

Adding to this idea is dodds’s strange belief the appearance of purple dye might likewise provide any Turkmen connection.

No, once more, dodds’s belief he can kite any idea, no matter how curious or unsupportable, is the only explanation for such ridiculous statements.

So too is his notion “the ‘wide ribbon-like borders’ for the mirhab are also seen in Seljuk carpets and on Timurid tiles’ has any relevance or genuine meaning – it doesn’t and is only more name-dropping and hear-say.

“In the HALI review, Franses cites that the repeated, small interlace element “within the blue-green field border “ is a rare ornament although it also occurs in much the same form as one of the ‘Seljuk’ carpets”. The approximate date of ca. 1600 is consistent with current scholarship.”

No one with any developed rug-intellect could help but recognize both franses and dodds’s belief the occurance of a ‘swastika’-like motif in the “bellini” has any real meaning in comparison to those on a Seljuk carpet other than more name-dropping.

In fact, to do so demonstrates both of them have nothing really to say and are grabbing at any straws in their presentations.

While a date of 1600 might have been passable in the early 1980’s, for dodds to claim it as being acceptable with current scholarship in 2004 is nothing but transparent sales-patter.

Let’s remember Walter Denny, one of the three LACMA experts who vetted the “bellini” for gluckman, immediately changed his opinion the rug was circa 1600 to a far more plausible “1650-1750 but at the end of that continuum” position upon viewing it personally.

The rug is assuredly not circa 1600 or 1650. Nor is it mid-16th century as dodds claimed at other times according to what gluckman told us when we first spoke to her.

If dodds, or anyone else, truly believes a date of 1600 is “ acceptable with current scholarship” we urge them to first look up the word scholarship in a dictionary, because dodds flawed letter of expertise is not scholarship, even in the unscholarly field of Oriental Rug publication.

We’d then suggest they read some of the better rug literature where veritable circa 1600 Turkish Village Rugs are illustrated, as then it becomes impossible to intelligently countenance such a date for the LACMA “bellini”.

If that stretch wasn’t enough, dodds’s listing of the exhibitions and publications his “bellini” has appeared in, as proof of its importance, could only impress the unknowing, as all of them were, in fact, nothing more than glorified attempts to find a buyer.

There is not one of these anyone could point to as an independent desire to illustrate the rug for any other purpose.

We list them, errors and all, only to prove our contention:

Franz Bausback Gallery, Mannheim, 1981
International Conference on Oriental Carpets, Vienna, 1983
Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, 1996
Bausback, October, 1981, pl.11
HALI, Vol.4, no. 2, `1981 p.166
Antike Anatolische Teppiche aus Osterreichischem Besitz, 1983, p.64, pl.7
Oriental Rugs from Atlantic Collections, Dodds and Eiland, eds., 1996, p.19, pl.19
HALI, no.----?, review of Milan Exhibition, 2001
(Dale, you have a copy of this review that I gave you at the Antiques Show)
The net price is $250,000.”

RK has not seen the last reference, the 2001 hali Milan exhibition review, so we cannot comment.

However, about the $250,000 net price, we surely could and have, and see no need to revisit this issue.

But, in the final analysis, the price LACMA paid is not an issue for RK because even had they paid $10,000, it would not change the fact the “bellini” is not museum worthy or a masterpiece of its type in any degree whatsoever.

In closing we must say the finale of dodds’s letter of expertise was, perhaps, the most egregious attempt he made at pulling the wool over LACMA’s naďve and trusting curator, dale gluckman:

“Dale, other knowledgeable collectors and specialist dealers have commented in the past couple of years that this is the best early Anatolian village carpet of its age and type available. I have tried to document for you some of the earlier published references.”

“One of the best early Anatolian Village carpets of its age and type available”?

'Scuze us but this is a blatant lie and one that proves what a carpet-bagging liar and thief dennis dodds is.

Plus, his saying he has provided “some of the earlier published references” is equally as specious, as they are the ONLY references.

Yes, dodds is a liar and a cheat and he abused the trust gluckman placed in him.

That trust, by the way, was undoubtedly supported by his high profile position as the president of the icoc. This is why we believe dodds should be removed, publicly rebuked for his dishonesty and run out of rugdom asap.

We will publish the rest of his letter of expertise for completeness, even though it says nothing new and is only summation:

“It is an important example of the geometric style that probably originated in the cultural context of westward migrating Turkmen tribes from Central Asia who settled in villages in the Konya region of Central Anatolia in the 14th and 15th centuries. Thus, the carpet helps establish the existence of this geometric style in that place and time and distinguishes it from Ottoman court workshops in Western Anatolia, such as Ushak.

Subjectively, its large size and overall scale is impressive, with a profound visual impact. The rich, intense palette gives testimony to the very best examples of the dyer’s art. The wool is lustrous and the condition is very good. The spacious composition and spare use of key design elements create an arresting and lasting impact that speaks volumes in an ancient tribal language.

I would be delighted if my carpet found a home in a prestigious Museum where so many people could be touched by its power and beauty – as I have for all these years I have owned it.”

What could anyone conversant with both historic Turkish Village rugs, and the market for them, say except dodds is lying through his dental work

1. There is absolutely NO provable connection between any Turkmen group, migrating to Anatolia or not, and the LACMA “bellini” and we defy dodds or anyone else to demonstrate there is.

2.The “bellini” is clearly not an Ottoman court weaving, but so what? Any claim of importance because of this reality is worthless – it is obvious and meaningless - even a rug know-little like dodds should realize this.

3. The “bellini’s” large size and overscale are not impressive to anyone familiar with real circa 1600 Turkish Village rugs and its monotonous and somewhat boring color palette is surely no testament to any great dyer’s art.

4. If dodds, or anyone else believes “The spacious composition and spare use of key design elements create an arresting and lasting impact that speaks volumes in an ancient tribal language.”, we, once more, suggest they do some study of genuine historic Turkish Village Rugs and that idea will immediately vanish. Only a lying, dishonest fool, like dodds could present such hyperbole with a straight face.

5. Likewise any one stating the “condition is good”, considering the substantial and obvious restoration that is there for all to see, can only be seen as a charlatan and liar.

6. Of course dodds would be “ delighted if my carpet found a home in a prestigious Museum where so many people could be touched by its power and beauty – as I have for all these years I have owned it.", who wouldn’t.

But in light of the reality no one, in the 25 plus year history of this rug being on the market, thought the “bellini” had “power and beauty”, dodds’s words ring horribly hollow, untrue and deceitful.

To sum up, RK will be amazed if there is no public outcry from rugdom after we have made public the instrument dodds used to defraud and cheat LACMA into buying his bogus “bellini” rug.

LACMA needs to know the truth and, even more so, needs to hear from those involved in rugdom that we do not condone dodds’s thievery, lies and gross misrepresentations.

This is a very serious issue, both for LACMA and for rugdom in general, and anyone who believes different, or is too afraid or lazy to get involved, should be ashamed and embarrassed.

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