THE ORIENTAL RUG
From the Collection of Mr. George H. Ellwanger
Size: 3.10 x 6
By Dodd, Mead and Company
Published September, 1903
That Oriental rugs are works of art in the highest sense of the term, and that fine antique specimens, of even modest size, have a financial value of ten, fifteen, or thirty-eight thousand dollars, has been recently determined at public auction. At this auction, several nations had a representative voice in the bidding, and the standard of price was fairly established. The value of rugs may have been imaginary and sentimental heretofore; it is now a definite fact, with figures apparently at the minimum. What the maximum may prove, remains to be seen.
Choice old rugs, therefore, to-day come into the same class with genuine paintings of the old Dutch School; with canvases of Teniers, Ruysdael, Cuyp, Ostade, or whatever similar artist’s work may have escaped the museums. They vie in prestige with the finest examples of Corot, Diaz, Troyon, or Daubigny; and in monetary supremacy they overtop the rarest and grandest of Chinese porcelains.
And yet the Oriental rug, as against such competitors for the wealthy collectors’ favour, has hardly a history, and is practically without a name or a pedigree. Experts will tell you at a glance whether or not your Wouverman is genuine, or inform you where every true Corot was owned or whence it was bartered or stolen. In Chinese porcelains, the knowing dealer will easily prove to you not only under what dynasty but in what decade or year a particular piece was produced.
The painting has descent, signature, or the brush mark of a school to father it. The Chinese vase, bowl, or jar has its marks, cyphers, stamps and dates, and an undoubted genealogy to vouch for its authenticity. The rug must speak for itself and go upon its intrinsic merits. It is its own guarantee and certificate of artistic and financial value.
The study of Oriental rugs, therefore, can never lead to an exact science or approximate dogmatic knowledge. Whoever is interested in them must needs rely upon his personal judgment or the seller’s advice. There is practically only one current book authority in the premises.
A new volume on the subject would thus seem to be well justified. It is the hope of the author that this book may prove itself sound and practical, and that it may help to make more clear and simple the right appreciation of a valuable rug.
W. D. ELLWANGER
Rochester, N.Y., 1903