SSM celebrates 10th year with comprehensive Dutch art exhibit

İstanbul’s Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) unveils its eagerly anticipated new exhibition »»

İstanbul’s Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) unveils its eagerly anticipated new exhibition this week in what it says is the most comprehensive overview to date of the period known as the Golden Age of Dutch Art in Turkey.

Titled “Where Darkness Meets Light: Rembrandt and His Contemporaries,” the new show is set to go on public display on Wednesday after an opening gala on Tuesday at the museum, nested in the historic Equestrian Mansion, the one-time home of the Sabancı family, in the picturesque Emirgan quarter.

Set to run through June 10, “Where Darkness Meets Light” is the latest in a string of cultural events in Turkey -- particularly in İstanbul -- marking the 400th anniversary of the commencement of diplomatic ties between Turkey and the Netherlands. However, the exhibition is special in another way for the SSM as it also marks the museum’s 10th anniversary.

The exhibition brings together works from the prestigious Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam with pieces from several leading private collections around the world, most of which will be displayed for the first time in Turkey, the SSM said in a written announcement about the exhibition last week.

The 110-piece selection to be showcased in the exhibition includes 73 paintings, 19 drawings and 18 objects by 60 artists who are major representatives of 17th-century Dutch art, including its greatest master, Rembrandt van Rijn. Other master artists whose works will be presented in the show are Frans Hals, Jan Steen and Jacob van Ruisdael, presenting the splendor of the Golden Age of Dutch art, considered to be one of the most exciting periods in art history.

Also among the showcased paintings will be “The Love Letter” by Johannes Vermeer, who remained an obscure figure for many centuries, with his works being attributed to other artists for a long time. Although only 35 works are attributed to Vermeer today, he is universally acknowledged as a major artist of his time.

The exhibition will be the first comprehensive show in Turkey regarding Dutch art and will provide a broad framework tackling the atmosphere of the period and its reflections on art. The exhibition will “reflect all of the major themes that dominate the Golden Age of Dutch Art, including urban life, portraits, still-life paintings, overseas power and trade,” the SSM statement said.

Apart from shedding light on 17th-century Dutch society -- both urban and rural life -- through the eyes of the masters of the art of painting, the exhibition will also present a general overview of the country that became one of Europe’s most developed countries in arts and sciences in the 17th century through the wealth it accumulated through overseas trade, the museum said. “In this context, the works will also tell stories about the economic and social dynamics of the period,” the statement said.

Museum-goers will also discover an interesting example of the reflections of diplomatic relations on art through the tulip patterns in the exhibition, the SSM noted.

The Turkish and Dutch governments are the diplomatic co-sponsors of the exhibition, which is also supported by a number of major Dutch companies operating in Turkey, including ING Bank and Philips, among others.

The showcase will be accompanied by such side events as documentary and feature film screenings and educational programs aimed at children, such as workshops, in addition to conferences and seminars for adult museum-goers. A scholarly seminar, titled “Rembrandt or Not,” to be held in April, will host the world’s leading conservators and art historians for a discussion focusing on the authenticity of historical artworks, the SSM said.


Arts & Culture

Columnist: TODAY'S ZAMAN