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Sultans, merchants, painters: the early years of Turkish-Dutch relations

21 January–1 April 2012

Pera Museum in collaboration with the Amsterdam Museum is organizing an exhibition exploring the commencement of four hundred years of fruitful cooperation between Turkey and the Netherlands. It was on 14 March 1612 during the ruling of the Ottoman Empire that the first Ambassador of Dutch Republic, Cornelis Haga, arrived in Constantinople. The year 2012 marks the four hundredth year of this diplomatic relations. In collaboration with several other leading partners, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Nationaal Archief in The Hague and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the exhibition aims to spread knowledge about historical and contemporary links between Amsterdam and Istanbul. The exhibition explores the historical and contemporary relations between two world cities and through these cities, implicitly also the two countries. ‘Pioneers’ and ‘image (-forming)’ are among the prominent themes. The exhibition is not intended as a complete survey of four centuries of diplomatic ties, but rather provides an attractive insight into the historical ties between Amsterdam and Istanbul, from 1612 to the present day. The exhibition is historical and social in approach, yet it also features important art works as well. A key section of the exhibition is a reconstruction of the Levantse Handel (Levant Trade) chamber that was based in the Town Hall (Palace on Dam Square) from the early 17th to early 19th century. A detailed inventory exists of the paintings and charts that were displayed on the walls of this powerful commercial office in Amsterdam. Many of these items, including an extensive series of portraits by Vanmour, from the collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum will also be exhibited.

Istanbul and Amsterdam, Turkey and the Netherlands, have been and continue to serve as important bridges between Europe and Asia; major players in the international world of commerce, diplomacy, art and migration. The exhibition which takes place firstly at Pera Museum, then travels to the Amsterdam Museum, highlights the connection between Turkish and Dutch history; stimulating mutual (multi-) cultural understanding for today.