Extract

The Curious Cabinet of Cornelis Calkoen

Paintings and souvenirs amassed by the Dutch envoy Cornelis Calkoen during Turkey’s Tulip Period are gaining as high a profile as their flamboyant owner. On show at the Pera Museum and the Amsterdam Museum in 2012, Calkoen’s Turkish Cabinet will grace the Rijksmuseum’s new 18th-century galleries in 2013.

  • The Grand Vizier Crossing the Atmeydani, 1727–37, Jean-Baptiste Vanmour

When Amsterdam’s renovated Rijksmuseum reopens in 2013, the public will be able to visit the Turkish Cabinet of Cornelis Calkoen, the Dutch republic’s ambassador to Istanbul from 1727 to 1744. For more than a century now the museum has been the keeper of his collection of paintings. More recently the ambassador’s portrait and a group of personal belongings from his days in Istanbul were added to the collection.

Calkoen was 30 when he was appointed ambassador to Istanbul. He arrived with no diplomatic experience, though he had served in administrative posts before. The Calkoen family had been involved in the Levant trade for generations, and as ambassador it was Cornelis’s job to protect and stimulate that trade. This aspect of his work was so important that part of his salary was paid by the Directorate of Levant Trade.

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