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On 24 June 2019, the book launch for La Collection d’armes orientales de Pierre Loti will be held by the Aga Khan Centre in London. There will be a discussion by Stephane Pradine and Claude Stafani, followed by a reception.
La Collection d’armes orientales de Pierre Loti is an exhibition catalogue published by the Mairie de Rochefort, Ministry of Culture and the Museum of Hébre with the support of the Fondation du Patrimoine, and the Arms and Armour Society in London. Around 80 objects are described in detail in the 159-page catalogue, including arms and armour from Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Balkans, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia, Persia and India. These objects are mainly Ottoman, Mughal and Qajar arms and essentially from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The catalogue is in French but the first two chapters, introducing Pierre Loti and his arms and armour collection, are in both English and French.
Pierre Loti was a famous French Orientalist writer, a traveller who used his house and his fabulous collection as a permanent theatre. All the objects that he accumulated became part of the house and supported the Orientalist dreams of Pierre Loti. “The Elsewhere House” as Loti describes his abode, has three Oriental rooms, decorated with various objects, including an array of weapons in the Turkish Salon. Pierre Loti’s residence in Rochefort follows a pattern that is inspired by both the Neo-Gothic styles and Orientalism, two fashions of the nineteenth century. Orientalist fantasies still remain a ‘secret garden’ and the Oriental rooms are not discernible from the outside; the front of the building looks like any other very conventional façade, just like the façade of the famous house that once belonged to Frederic Leighton, located near Holland Park in London. This connection between artists and explorers is particularly interesting in the case of Pierre Loti, who was not only a writer but also an illustrator, photographer and traveller. Pierre Loti’s house is now closed for restoration and all the furniture and objects that were in the house were transferred to storerooms and laboratories for conservation and research. It was during this period that AKU-ISMC faculty member, Stephane Pradines, studied Loti’s collection in Rochefort, from 2015 to 2018. This study provided two scientific events organised by Claude Stefani: an exhibition and a publication.
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