From Herengracht to the Bosphorus

By Thomas Roueche | June 6, 2012


The floorboards of the Geelvinck-Hinlopen House, facing on to the stately Herengracht in central Amsterdam, come from the ships of the Hinlopen family – ships which plied the oceans of the world, enriching the Hinlopens and their interests in Spain, Africa, Surinam and the West Indies.

The elegant house built on these much-travelled boards is an immaculate example of a Dutch canal house. The museum’s crowning feature is undoubtedly its expansive gardens which stretch from the main house on the Herengracht to the stable buildings on the Keizersgracht.

Though most visitors are content to wend their way through the high-ceilinged historical rooms overlooking the canal and garden, the museum also currently features an exhibition space, currently home to Buitens aan de Bosporus (Outdoors on the Bosphorus). The show is built around a series of faded and distressed photographs, taken by the Dutch photographer Martin Parternotte. The pictures have an antique, otherworldly quality, creating impressions of the interiors and conveying an aura of the past.

Parternotte shows wit in his art, capturing unexpected juxtapositions. In one interior a Dutch master of a group of men is set against an Ottoman group photograph. Meanwhile the Geelvinck has done much to capture the atmosphere of the orient evoked by Parternotte’s images with the creation of a Turkse Tent, a sumptuously curated interior of carpets and cushions.

All around the museum are scattered beautiful objects from one of Cornucopia's stockists, Ottomania, purveyors of fine Turkish and Turkish-inspired products. Altogether the show and these objects shed an interesting light on the grandeur of the stadpaleis or town-palace, evoking the broad reach of the Dutch economic empire and the wide cultural curiosity of the 17th- and 18th-century citizens of Amsterdam.

Posted in Museums, Photography
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