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Qatar Museums Authority's Orientalist Museum opens "The Art of Travel" exhibition
Benevolent Turks Feeding Animals, from the Travel Album of Bartholomäus Schachman (62v), 1590. Watercolour, pencil on paper, 19.8 x 13.1 cm. Inscription in iron gall ink. Orientalist Museum, Doha, OM.749.

DOHA.- Under the patronage of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) Chairperson, QMA’s Qatar orientalist Museum opened on November 15th “The Art of Travel: Bartholomäus Schachman (1559-1614)”. The exhibition will run until February 11, 2013, at the ALRIWAQ DOHA exhibition space, located next to the Museum of Islamic Art.

Curated by Dr Olga Nefedova, Collections Director of the orientalist Museum, The Art of Travel is an exhibition of orientalist art and history, illustrating the importance of European-Ottoman relations throughout the 16th century.

Speaking about the significance of this historic exhibition, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani said: “The Art of Travel brings together some of the finest paintings by 16th century Danzig masters from the orientalist Museum collection, as well as a remarkable selection of decorative art bearing witness to the sophistication achieved by artists during that period. The exhibition will also act as an artistic ambassador and enhance the relations between Poland and Qatar, so that the ongoing strategic dialogue will continue to be carried forward by two states that have much to offer one another, in the fields of politics, economy, business, finance, culture, and tourism.”

The exhibition introduces visitors to the story of a journey to the Ottoman Empire done by Bartholomäus Schachman (1559-1614), mayor of Danzig (Gdańsk), traveller and explorer, art patron and collector, benefactor and connoisseur, who travelled through Europe, Middle East and North Africa between 1588 and 1589. After his travel he commissioned an album, dated 1590, consisting of 105 full-page watercolour and pencil drawings on paper documenting what he saw during his travels, depicting the costumes and people of the Ottoman Empire, together with scenes of everyday life, festivals and ceremonies. The exhibition, shaped and formed around the album, provides visitors with a fascinating and vivid view back in time to 16th century Danzig and Istanbul, and the life of Bartholomäus Schachman.

A similar joint exhibition by QMA’s Qatar orientalist Museum and the National Museums of Danzig named “Bartholomäus Schachman (1559 – 1614): the Art of Travel” opened in Gdańsk on July 16, 2012. The exhibition in Poland witnessed large turn out from a wide spectrum of community members and remained on view till October 15, 2012.

A comprehensive education programme will complement the exhibition including an international conference on Sunday 9 December during which distinguished scholars from art history, cultural studies, literature, architectural history, and Ottoman history, as well as museum professionals from Poland, Austria, and Qatar, will explore the subject of 16th century orientalism in art and history. Among the speakers are: Olga Nefedova (orientalist Museum, Doha), Sara Al Mana (orientalist Museum, Doha), Tadeusz Majda (Professor Ordinarius, Warsaw University), Harold Lacom (writer and translator, Vienna) and Magdalena Mielnik (National Museum, Gdansk). A number of creative and interactive workshops for families and schools are also scheduled to be held throughout the exhibition allowing visitors to create illustrations and dresses inspired by the orientalist paintings and Ottoman costumes.

A bilingual lavishly illustrated book by Olga Nefedova, with additional texts by Anna Frackowska, Sara Al Mana and Hyejung Yum is published by Skira to accompany the exhibition.

Bartholomäus Schachman, mayor of Danzig (Gdańsk) between 1605 and 1614 was, thanks to his many journeys throughout Europe and the Middle East, dubbed the Ulysses of Gdańsk. Thoroughly educated and fabulously wealthy, he was not just a politician but also a collector, an amateur of ancient sculptures and weaponry, bibliophile, patron of the artists and friend to the scholars. His rule is one of the finest periods in city’s history. His life began and ended in a time of major political and religious changes in Europe, a time of grand geographical discoveries, a time when both religious and secular arts flourished, a time of great expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

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