James F. Ballard, for those who are not a rug connoisseur, was in fact an American rug connoisseur who held an extensive and impressive collection of Oriental rugs in the early 20th Century. Some of which can be viewed at The Saint Louis Art Museum as part of the exhibition ‘The Carpet and the Connoisseur: The James F. Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs’. Ballard was considered revolutionary in his approach to seeking out exquisite carpets as he swam against the tide of his fellow rug enthusiasts and sought his prize in less obvious and recognised locations for his admirable rugs. A particularly good example of this is Ballards Anatolian carpets that he sourced from Turkey while his competitors pursued the classic Persian and Indian design. This being said, Ballard fell into the temptation of two 19th Century Persian pleasure tents that can also be viewed in their full glory at The Saint Louis Art Museum. The exhibition comprises of a selection of Cairene Rugs, which is an Egyptian floor covering produced between the 15th century and the 18th century that usually consists of large central geometric shapes such as stars, polygons or octagons traditionally in a six-way colour scheme but reduced to three in later production. Alternatively The Saint Louis Art Museum holds examples of Lotto Carpets, a rug whose name derives from the Venetian Painter Lorenzo Lotto who features the rug frequently in his works. Each rug within the exhibition collection defines itself through the techniques used to weave, the dying process that contributes to the rich or subtle tones and the shapes that mark the rugs to make them distinguishable by time, place and producer for the rug connoisseur. Combined this is what made James F. Ballard so innovative as a collector and what makes this exhibition a must see. The Carpet and the Connoisseur: The James F. Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs The exhibition is ticketed and will be on view from 6 March – 8 May 2016.