As one of the first key exhibitions of the year 2012, the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Pera Museum
is presenting Sultans, Merchants, Painters: The Early Years of Turkish-Dutch Relations; an exhibition commemorating four hundred years of cultural, diplomatic and trade relations between Turkey and the Netherlands.
Organized in collaboration with the Amsterdam Museum and with the support of several other partners, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Nationaal Archief in The Hague both in the Netherlands, the exhibition includes 81 works comprised of oil paintings, watercolors, engravings and books. Works by the well known master painter from the Tulip Era, Jean-Baptiste Vanmour are also included.
In March 1612, after a long journey, Dutch envoy Cornelis Haga arrived at the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The States-General of the young republic of the United Netherlands had designated Haga as their representative to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Although first and foremost his mission was a diplomatic one, he is considered to have initiated the very early economic diplomacy as well. Rather than only maintaining political contacts between the Netherlands and the Ottoman Empire, he was also assigned to secure and advance the commercial interests of the Netherlands in the Ottoman Empire.
In the 17th century, a company was set up in Amsterdam to arm Dutch ships and to encourage trade. It was called the Directorate of Levant Trade and Navigation in the Mediterranean, in short: the Directorate of Levant Trade. Haga, far away in Istanbul, was one of the main founders. The Directorate of Levant Trade coordinated maritime contact with the Ottoman Empire. The Amsterdam office of the Directorate of Levant Trade was situated in the most important building of the Dutch Republic: the town hall on Dam Square in Amsterdam.
After all, the Levantine trade was one of the pillars of Dutch Eastern commerce. The trade between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe provided one of the reasons for the extraordinary prosperity in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
Based upon an inventory in the archives of the Directorate of Levant Trade, there is quite detailed information as to the collection of art owned by the Directorate of Levant Trade. According to this inventory from 1810, the room must have been repleted with impressive paintings and maps of the Ottoman Empire. In the following years after a period of decline, the Directorate of Levant Trade was formally disbanded. All its possessions ended up in the hands of the Dutch state. Eventually all archival materials went to the National Archives in The Hague; works of art to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
The exhibition Sultans, Merchants, Painters: The Early Years of Turkish-Dutch Relations organized by Pera Museum in collaboration with the Amsterdam Museum provides the visitors an exceptional opportunity, embarking upon a pleasurable journey through the older days of İstanbul and Amsterdam, the historical periods of the Ottomans and the Dutch and a revisit to the Tulip Era in particular.
The art works; paintings, engraving and objects included in the exhibition are being shown together for the first time since centuries. The fascinating paintings, the majority of which were executed by master artist Jean-Baptiste Vanmour and his school, will constitute a special point of interest for art lovers. The exhibition also includes works from the collection of the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation; selected works of Vanmour, who is renowned as an eyewitness of the Tulip Era.
Pera Museums exhibition Sultans, Merchants, Painters: The Early Years of Turkish-Dutch Relations will be open to visitors between the dates of 21 January 1 April 2012; upon completing its İstanbul visit, the exhibition will be mounted in the Amsterdam Museum between the dates of 18 April 26 August 2012.