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About Walter B. Denny

Walter B. Denny joined the faculty of the UM/A Art History Program in 1970. His primary field of teaching and research is the art and architecture of the Islamic world, in particular the artistic traditions of the Ottoman Turks, Islamic carpets and textiles, Islamic imagery in European art, and issues of economics and patronage in Islamic art. His recent publications include the books Gardens of Paradise: Ottoman Turkish Tiles of the 15th-17th Centuries (Istanbul, 1998); Masterpieces of Anatolian Carpets from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul (Bern, 2001); Ipek: Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets (London, 2002); and The Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets (Washington D.C., 2002). Iznik: La céramique turque et l'art ottoman appeared in 2004 in Paris (Editions Citadelles et Mazenod), followed by English (Thames & Hudson) and German (Hirmer) versions in 2005. His chapter on Islamic art in the 7th edition of Janson's History of Art appeared in early 2006. Current projects include catalogues for two major collections of Islamic art, and a number of articles on Ottoman art and orientalism; he is also in the midst of digitizing 20,000 of his 140,000 color slides with ARTStor, a project of the Mellon Foundation.
In addition to teaching a two-semester survey sequence on Islamic art and architecture, usually offered in the fall semester, Walter has taught a large undergraduate topical survey course, Introduction to the Visual Arts, every fall for over three decades. His upper-level courses have focused on various aspects of Islamic and European art, including an historical survey of the art of the oriental carpet, and a course on orientalism in Western art. In recent years, he has also taught the Graduate Museum Studies Seminar and a one-credit graduate course entitled Images and Reproductions in the History of Art, a course that examines both the history of use of images in the discipline, and the practical problems of obtaining images for one's scholarly work, including issues of copyright, photography of art, electronic media, and permissions to publish.
Walter has served as a Trustee of The Textile Museum (Washington) and was for three decades Honorary Curator of Carpets and Textiles at the Harvard University Art Museums in Cambridge. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Turkish Studies and serves as Charles Grant Ellis Research Fellow in Oriental Carpets at The Textile Museum. He is active as a lecturer and as a consultant to museums and other institutions in the United States and abroad. He is married to Alice Robbins, a professional musician (Baroque cello and viola da gamba) who is also an instructor in the Five College Early Music Program, and is the father of Matthew, born in 1988. Walter performs as a tenor soloist and chorister with various ensembles, including Da Camera Singers and Arcadia Players, and serves on the Board of Directors of Arcadia Players.


Present Professor, Department of Art, Architecture & Art History, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Interests

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Honors and Awards

  • Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Research and Creative Activity, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 138th Commencement for Bachelor's Degree Candidates, 2007-2008

Contact Information

325A Bartlett Hall
130 Hicks Way
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst MA, 01003
Tel: 413-545-3595
or 413-545-4801
Fax: 413-545-3135


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