Exhibition: Asia in Amsterdam – Luxury in the Golden Age

Rijksmuseum - Asia in Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 17 October 2015 – 17 January  2016

At the start of the Golden Age, Dutch merchants used their business acumen to establish lucrative trade agreements with Asia. This trade saw all sorts of exotic treasures, such as porcelain, lacquer ware, ebony, ivory and silk, arriving in the Dutch Republic, where no one had ever seen such design and materials before. Asia in Amsterdam shares the sensation that these luxury items caused, while also presenting the history behind this first global market. When Dutch ships sailed the entire globe, when young men risked their lives to become rich in Batavia, and when the phrase ‘Made in China’ meant something else altogether. Amsterdam played a central role in the story: the capital city became the marketplace for Asian luxury goods. And not just for the republic, but for all of Europe.

The exhibition also presents many seventeenth-century paintings: still-lifes and portraits of citizens who had themselves painted among their newly acquired items of Asian luxury; for example, men who wanted to be truly fashionable had their portraits painted wearing a silk ‘Japanese skirt’, which was a long loose-fitting silk coat, such as the one worn by Amsterdam pharmacist Johannes Hudde in the portrait of him by Michiel van Musscher in 1686.

The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, USA, and will travel there next, opening in February 2016. Loan items originate in such far-flung places as Moscow, St Petersburg, Versailles, London, Oxford, Madrid and Stockholm.

For more information, visit the website of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

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