You wrote, i think there is a hell of a lot of 'guessing' that goes on in dating rugs. ... so, what the hell. i tend to go a lot on 'feel' and instinct.
I believe that there's little beyond guessing in most date attributions (although it is often educated guessing, educated guessing cannot be any better than the education on which it is based). Increasing general awareness of this is the central point I had in mind when I selected the topic for this mini-salon. It's also the reason why I think the Internet Rug World's Jacque Clouseau is ridiculous when he insists that his guess of the age of a particular Turkish village rug is better than that of others (whose credentials completely eclipse his own).
But basing attribution on "feel and instinct" is still guessing. If one person's feel and instinct differs from someone else's, how can we know who holds the trump card?
You wrote : "It's also the reason why I think the Internet Rug World's Jacque Clouseau is ridiculous when he insists that his guess of the age of a particular Turkish village rug is better than that of others (whose credentials completely eclipse his own)".
Who do you mean by ''The Internet Rug World's Jacques Clouseau'' ? Is he someone we know? Someone who disagrees with your views? Or anyone who dears to question established wisdom? Or should he perhaps first submit his credentials before he is allowed to take part in the discussion?
I am surprised you take this view. Surely the principle of a site like Turkotek is for anyone to join in a frank (and sometimes passionate) discussion?
Surely the principle of a site like Turkotek is for anyone to join in a frank (and sometimes passionate) discussion?
The person in question (Jacques Clouseau) is Jack Cassin. Jack has more in common with Clouseau than just his initials.
Jack does, indeed, disagree with much of what I say, although this is not a problem for me. We do encourage the expression of differences of opinion here, and nobody has ever been asked anything more than to do so with civility.
My mention of credentials was made to emphasize that he has none that should make anyone take him seriously when he dons the mantle of expertise. He has written a couple of books that he had published by vanity presses (one in an attempt to enhance the value of his Turkmen collection, which was offered at Sotheby's a few years after publication of the book); operates one website which he imagines to be a museum and another that is so widely ignored that if you search for some of the words nearly unique to it (i.e., rk.com), Google won't find it. With regard to either of the stated purposes of that site, it is virtually a total failure. Those whose opinions he attacks in the rant to which I was referring are three highly respected professionals, all widely published. That is, they have excellent credentials.
JC=Jacques Clouseau opened the second website about 2 years ago, ostensibly to provide a forum for rug debate and as a venue for rug sales. Not a single rug has been sold through it, and most of those originally listed were quickly withdrawn by the dealers who put them there. The site also includes a discussion forum, with what is probably the worst message board software on the web (something as simple as a line break requires the author to code it in HTML; dates change seemingly at random). Apart from JC=Jacques himself and posts from anonymous people taunting him, there have been no more than a dozen contributors attempting to engage in serious rug discussions, none for more than a brief period. He has recently adopted the affectation of referring to himself in the plural (a privilege generally reserved for royalty and people with tapeworms), perhaps imagining that this will be perceived as giving his opinions more weight.
I am his favorite target, and have been ever since I declined his invitation to serve on the board of his "museum" 3 or 4 years ago. But others recently flattered by his clearly absurd venom include the new director of the Washington Textile Museum, at least 4 members of the ICOC board (not including the late Robert Pinner), etc., etc., etc. His level of humanity was most clearly illustrated when he announced the death of Sam Gorden as "Today's Chuckle" awhile back.
I'll be glad to give you more details in private correspondence, if you're interested.
Hello Mr Price:
I have been following the discussion about the Los Angeles County Museum's recent purchase of a Turkish Rug. I have read what Mr Cassin has written and also what has apppeared on your website.
From what I have read, it appears Mr Cassin's feelings about the rug have now been confirmed by Walter Denny. Is that factual or has Mr Cassin just made up the quotes from Denny to suppport his claims?
To tell you the truth I am quite confused and hope you will email me your views on this quite interesting subject.
I would also be interested in learning more about Jack Cassin as per your offer to email additional information about him to another poster.
Congratulations on your website. I have been visiting it for a couple of years or more and have learned quite alot in doing so.
Please note that I changed your Turkotek user name from douglassfeinmann to Doug Feinmann. This will make your actual name appear in your message headers.
JC=Jacques Clouseau recently said that Walter Denny told him that the rug probably dates to the 1650-1750 range, which is somewhat later than his original estimate. Whether Walter actually said that to JC=Jacques Clouseau is anybody's guess, and I do not recall seeing anything that was represented to be a verbatim quotation. If he did say it, he may have done so just to get off the phone without simply hanging up (which is the way I deal with calls from JC=Jacques Clouseau).
There is a difference between estimating a rug's age and claiming to know what it is, and I'm sure Walter Denny would be the first to acknowledge the potential for error in such estimations.
As far as I'm concerned, the fundamental issues in the matter are
1. whether the collective opinions of three reputable experts are trumped by JC=Jacques Clouseau's strident insistence that he is right and they are wrong, and
2. whether LACMA used due diligence before purchasing the rug.
I think age attributions are almost always just educated guesses, and if forced to choose between that of the three experts and JC=Jacques Clouseau's, I'd go with the experts every time. As for the due diligence issue, LACMA seems to have exercised it by consulting the three experts (none of whom engage in commercial activity or have any obvious conflict of interest in the matter). The fact that they did not consult JC=Jacques Clouseau is further evidence of their sound judgment.
I am sorry I stirred this up with my question; I was just puzzled by your remark.
I'd be quite interested to learn more about what happened at the LACMA, but could all this discusion be moved to another thread? It really has nothing to do with our Leshgi Star discussion.
I would also like to know that What happend at the LAGMA ?
First, the information I will present here is taken entirely from posts made by JC=Jacques Clouseau on his own site. The interpretations of the significance of that information are my own, of course.
1. LACMA recently purchased a Turkish village rug estimated by the seller to date from about the 17th century. The seller is a very well known dealer and a prominent figure in the rug world. I see no reason to violate our rules forbidding discussion bearing on the reputation of a dealer by going on any further about him. The purchase price, according to JC=Jacques Clouseau's investigations was in the neighborhood of 150,000 British pounds. It seems odd to me that a transaction between an American dealer who had the rug in his inventory for some years and an American museum would involve British currency. But that's Inspector Clouseau's version of the way it happened.
2. Prior to making the purchase, LACMA called in three consultants for opinions. One is Walter Denny (Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts) with many contributions to the literature on rugs, including co-authorship of a catalog that includes several rugs related to the one in question. Another is Jon Thompson, an MD who left medicine and is now Professor of Anthropology at a British university. He needs no introduction to people interested in oriental rugs. The third is Louise Mackie, curator (or curator emeritus, I'm not sure right this minute) of the Toronto Textile Museum. All three confirmed the dealer's estimate of the age and quality of the rug, and the sale was consummated.
3. JC=Jacques Clouseau questioned the attribution of the rug, claiming it to be at least 100 years younger and of much less value. He threatened to cause no end of trouble unless the rug was returned to the dealer, who was to refund the purchase price. I don't recall at the moment what the nature of that trouble was to be, and didn't pay much attention to it because I see the notion of JC=Jacques Clouseau having significant clout as too ridiculous to take seriously. The criteria by which he determined the age appear to be based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence, perhaps not even that. They do not include anything depending on hands-on examination, and he admits to never having handled the rug.
4. Within the past two weeks, JC=Jacques Clouseau announced that Walter Denny, after careful examination of the rug, told him that he considers it to date between 1650 and 1750. More recently, JC=Jacques Clouseau modified this to circa 1750, apparently still based on the same alleged conversation with Denny.
There are many more details, of course, but none that I see as very important. I mentioned the subject initially because it seems to me to be such a good illustration of how seriously some people believe in the accuracy of their own guesses, one of the central points of this mini-salon.
Are there any other, independent sources of information on these events? Do you have an image of the rug that the LACMA bought?
Hi Steve ,
I think that you sould not take this guy seriously and not respond him again on his Web side ,you must even not to visit his web side, i think as much as you discuss this person you will get virus and he will enjoy it, because it looks to me he is jealous of you, when you respond him i bet you he enjoys it, trying to take attantion that makes him feel good, that is my idea.
I know of no source of information on the matter except the one I cited. An image of the rug is posted several times on JC=Jacques Clouseau's website, and I don't think adding it here will contribute anything to the immediate subject which, as I see it, is simply an illustration of how far some people will go on the basis of their own guesses. That point is independent of whether the guess is right or wrong which, I believe, is unknowable.
I'm sure you're right; thanks.
Professor Price's Views
Hello Steve and all Turkotek Readers:
In one of his posts Steve listed several points about the rug now in the Los Angeles Museum and from what I have learned in studying this matter Steve's interpretation of the facts is not 100% accurate. I do believe the museum's purchase of the carpet is of interest to many readers and a factual account is most important.
Let me address those points where Steve's version is at odds with the facts:
1. Originally the carpet was presented by the seller as 16th century. That date was then circulated within the museum's departments by the curator who handled the purchase.
2. Only months after the carpet entered the museum and in response to concerns that were raised did the museum revise their attribution from 16th Century to the slightly later circa 1600 period.
3. Steve is correct, the purchase price JC=Jacques Clouseau=Jack Cassin originally posted on his website was 150,000 English Pounds. According to JC he had possession of an email in which the seller quoted that as the sale’s price to the email's recipient. Soon thereafter, JC quoted the figure of $250,000, which is the actual cost and is a matter of public record. According to JC the first price 150,000 pounds was offered by dodds in the email because the recipient was from Great Britain and only later after doing more research did JC learn the actual Dollar figure.
4. From the beginning Cassin has claimed the carpet was made "at the end of the 18th century or circa 1800" and now Walter Denny, one of the three experts who vetted the carpet for the museum, has changed his mind and redates the carpet to the period 1650-1750. According to Cassin Walter Denny has placed it at the end of that continuum not at the beginning. So for all intents and purposes Denny now agrees with Cassin's dating and has renounced his belief the rug is, as he first thought, 16th century.
5. Steve has characterized Cassin's appraisal of the carpet as "based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence". This is far from the case, as any reader of Cassin’s website can see the 10 points Cassin lists to support his claim. In addition there are a number of other postings on Cassin's website that offer concrete evidence supporting his claim that the rug is a late period reproduction made "at best at the end of the 18th century."
6. Steve says "Within the past two weeks, JC=Jacques Clouseau announced that Walter Denny, after careful examination of the rug, told him that he considers it to date between 1650 and 1750. More recently, JC=Jacques Clouseau modified this to circa 1750, apparently still based on the same alleged conversation with Denny." This is not correct. Firstly, Cassin reported his conversation with Denny took place Feb. 11. Secondly, Cassin did not modify his estimation to 1750, as Steve claims. The circa 1750 is nothing more than what Denny has said. Remember at the end of the continuum 1650-1750 is actually circa 1750.
7. Steve's characterization of Cassin's interest in dating of the carpet, as "how seriously some people believe in the accuracy of their own guesses" makes Cassin's expertise into guesswork. This is also far from factual because Cassin has provided a large amount of credible information to support his claim. As far as I am concerned this is not guesswork.
I realize it is impossible to accurately date almost any historic rug but even though I am no expert of historic Turkish Rugs, after reviewing all the information I do believe Cassin's concerns about this rug are extremely well founded.
In proof of that statement Walter Denny's change of heart about dating of the rug, from at first 16th century to now saying it belongs at the end of the time period 1650-1750, goes a long way to show Cassin is not alone in his contention nor was he off-track.
Clearly this purchase by the Los Angeles County Art Museum will remain a topic of discussion and rightly so in my opinion. However, it is most important for everyone to understand the facts as they are and not have interpretations of those facts circulated in their stead.
" Steve's characterization of Cassin's interest in dating of the carpet, as "how seriously some people believe in the accuracy of their own guesses" makes Cassin's expertise into guesswork. This is also far from factual because Cassin has provided a large amount of credible information to support his claim. As far as I am concerned this is not guesswork ".
I confess I do on occasion check in on Mr Cassin's site, and do find some amusement in his certain "style" as it were, but am also familiar with his WAMIRI Weaving Museum. Have you read some of his other his material?
Thank you for clarifying the 16th/17th century date confusion and the matter of the transaction between an American dealer and an American museum being handled in British pounds. Being privy to JC=Jacques Clouseau's e-mail correspondence gives you a leg up in researching such details.
I am at a loss to understand how 1650-1750 can be equated to circa 1750. The range, 1650-1750 is generally understood to suggest a probable date of production around 1700, with a 50 year window of fairly substantial uncertainty on either side of it. Circa 1750 is generally understood to mean a probable date or production of 1750 with a narrow window of uncertainty surrounding it. There is a small overlap between 1650-1750 and circa 1750, but they are far from being identical.
I am aware of the criteria that JC=Jacques Clouseau applied in arriving at the conclusion that the rug was made around 1800. My criticism was not that he used no criteria, but that the criteria are ad hoc inventions, without a solid foundation. In order for anyone to generate truly reliable criteria for dating this (and related rugs) on the basis of their visible characteristics, there would have to be a substantial number of Turkish village rugs of accurately documented dates within the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. From them, it would be possible to extract data from which reliable criteria might emerge (or, they might not). Without this information, all opinions on the age of the rug are just that, opinions. Opinions, put simply, are just educated guesses.
The actual age of that rug cannot be determined by anyone's strident insistence that he has reliable criteria for doing so, even if he has deceived himself into believing it.
I have no expertise on the subject of old Turkish rugs, but understanding what it takes to develop reliable criteria for their attribution don't require such expertise.
As for JC=Jacques Clouseau's concerns, I don't share them or even understand why they are concerns to him. The transaction took place between a dealer and a willing buyer with the benefit of the opinions of three experts. I see no reason why their purchase should require JC=Jacques Clouseau's approval unless he was elected Rugdom's Chief Investigator, Judge and Jury while I wasn't paying attention. I don't think that happened, and I can think of few less likely candidates for such a role.
Your post takes off in a direction - criticism of WAMRI - that I would like to avoid. The subject of the mini-salon is the reliability of methods for attributing age. The age attribution of the rug in question is relevant to that subject, which is why it is included as a discussion topic.
Reply to Steve's Comments
Hi Steve and Everyone:
I would like to help clarify the date issue, which still seems to be unclear to Steve and perhaps others.
Steve wrote: "I am at a loss to understand how 1650-1750 can be equated to circa 1750. The range, 1650-1750 is generally understood to suggest a probable date of production around 1700, with a 50 year window of fairly substantial uncertainty on either side of it."
Yes this is rightly so but you missed the clincher in that Denny has placed the rug at the END of that continuum and not at the beginning. Obviously this is a crucial piece of the puzzle. So now that Professor Walter Denny has revised the PROBABLE dating to the end of the century, 1650-1750, Cassin or anyone else would be correct in saying circa 1750. I hope this is now understood. And since Cassin has directly quoted Denny, unless he is lying which I seriously doubt, we should all accept this is now Denny's position.
As for Jack Cassin's substantiation of his position I believe the ten points he noted, plus the additional photographs of masterpiece 17th and 18th century rugs of a similar type and the commentaries on them he has posted in comparison to the Los Angeles rug, are far from the ad hoc inventions Steve claims. I have read many rug books and articles and find Cassin's supporting documentation as good as or even superior to many other authors who have tried to answer the unanswerable questions about old carpets.
I do find Steve's comment " In order for anyone to generate truly reliable criteria for dating this (and related rugs) on the basis of their visible characteristics, there would have to be a substantial number of Turkish village rugs of accurately documented dates within the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. From them, it would be possible to extract data from which reliable criteria might emerge (or, they might not). Without this information, all opinions on the age of the rug are just that, opinions. Opinions, put simply, are just educated guesses." rather lopsided because he is willing to accept on face value what Denny and the other two experts said but readily discounts what Cassin has to offer. This is somewhat unusual, as neither Steve nor anyone else has heard the whys and wherefores of how these experts came to their conclusions.
Personally after Denny's change of mind I can not see how anyone would still be wary of Cassin's position, as Denny has now moved to almost exactly the same point.
In keeping with that thought Steve's comment "The actual age of that rug cannot be determined by anyone's strident insistence that he has reliable criteria for doing so, even if he has deceived himself into believing it." is again somewhat misleading and prejudicial. Why would Steve, or anyone else, say Cassin is deceiving himself into believing a "falsehood" when Denny has now confirmed what Cassin claims? Additionally why does Steve not believe the collary to his statement: why could not the experts have been deceiving themselves. This is pertinent as Denny’s change of mind shows this is as likely a circumstance as Steve’s belief Cassin is the deluded one.
Like Steve, I am no expert on early Turkish Rugs but after carefully reading Cassin's documentation and comparing the photos he has chosen to the Los Angeles Museum's rug I can readily see why that rug has raised such concerns.
Finally Steve wrote “As for JC=Jacques Clouseau's concerns, I don't share them or even understand why they are concerns to him. The transaction took place between a dealer and a willing buyer with the benefit of the opinions of three experts. I see no reason why their purchase should require JC=Jacques Clouseau's approval unless he was elected Rugdom's Chief Investigator, Judge and Jury while I wasn't paying attention. I don't think that happened, and I can think of few less likely candidates for such a role.” This again presents a prejudicial scenario. Why is Cassin one of the less likely candidates to question the sale of a carpet to a public institution? Cassin has proven his expertise and documented his position. He has also explained why he is doing this on his website. I do not pretend to talk for him and suggest anyone who is interested to read for himself his rational. I will say this though, Cassin has had it clear in his writing that because the sale was made to a public institution and the particulars of the article are so divergent from what was presented by the seller he decided he could not sit idly by and watch what he has called a “travesty” of an “art-crime” remain unrecognized and unquestioned.
I surely agree with him that the rug is not what the seller apparently claimed and the Museum clearly believed they purchased. I also believe what he is doing is valid and warranted by the fact the sale is a matter of public record and, therefore, public concern.
One point, and one point only: You wrote that my treatment of the issues is ...lopsided because he is willing to accept on face value what Denny and the other two experts said but readily discounts what Cassin has to offer. I would like to correct this. I do not accept what Denny (or anyone else) has said on the subject of dating the rug as being anything more than an expression of opinion. I consider the actual age to be unknowable, for the reasons I gave.
You have presented JC=Jacques Clouseau's point of view and I have presented mine, each in sufficient detail to permit any reader to reach his own conclusions. The topic is now closed to further posts. Apart from the preceding paragraph, I believe I have met my obligations by having given you the final word.
This message arrived this morning as e-mail. The text was copied and
pasted, with no modifications of any kind, and is posted here without comment.
There will be no further posts to this thread. Thanks, and regards to all. Steve
It appears from your actions that you are unable to create any type of rapport with anyone whose views differ from your own. This is a symptom many teachers suffer and in my mind it is a grievous one.
The presumptive manner in which you wield the infinitesimal power moderating your website grants you is far from becoming.
I had heard from Jack Cassin you were so inclined but honestly did not believe him entirely. I now see how right he was.
If you have any modicum of fair play you will post this publicly with your response.
Your failing to do so will prove nothing more than what Cassin said about you.
I am sadden by your attitude and seriously recommend a bit of introspection on your part.
Just a point of information, for anyone with any lingering doubts about it. "Douglass Feinmann" is a pseudonym under which JC=Jacques Clouseau has been singing praises to himself here and in my e-mail Inbox for the past few days.