Peabody Essex Museum Acquires 18th-Century Indian Export Textiles

Posted in museums by Editor on September 16, 2014

Press release (10 September 2014) from PEM:

2012-22-13_jacket_image-02The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is pleased to announce the acquisition of a singular collection of rare early 18th-century Indian textiles made for export to the Netherlands. The collection of more than 100 pieces, including hand-painted chintz palampores (bed covers), an embroidered palampore, as well as extraordinary examples of Dutch costumes, was assembled in the Netherlands between the 1920s and 1960s by a private collector, A. Eecen-van Setten. Carefully stewarded by Eecen’s granddaughter, Lieke Veldman-Planten, the Veldman-Eecen Collection has been preserved in exceedingly fine condition for the better part of the last century. The acquisition, funded by anonymous donors, significantly enhances PEM’s world-renowned Asian Export Art collection, and offers insight into 18th-century textile production, design, and trade.

Between 1650 and 1750, cotton textiles were imported in large quantities from eastern India to the Netherlands by the VOC (Dutch East India Company). Decorated with sinuous floral and foliage patterns, Indian cotton was commonly referred to as ‘chintz’ after the north Indian word chitra meaning ‘spotted’ or ‘sprinkled’. Indian chintzes were prized globally for their vivid and durable colors-something that European textile manufacturers were unable to match until the mid-18th century. These vibrant textiles were particularly popular in the Netherlands, where they were used for nearly everything-clothing, upholstery, bed hangings and even wall coverings. The Veldman-Eecen Collection features nearly a dozen Indian cotton chintz bed covers (palampores), as well as unusual examples of men’s dressing gowns (banyans), and women’s and children’s chintz clothing.

Collected at a time when chintz textiles were not well studied, the Veldman-Eecen Collection would be virtually impossible to assemble today given the scarcity of such textiles in the contemporary market. The collection, which also includes a selection of related European-printed textiles from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries, is enhanced by a detailed journal, or Sits Boek (chintz book), in which A.Eecen-van Setten chronicled her acquisitions. Selections from the collection will be on view in Asia in Amsterdam, a forthcoming 2016 exhibition co-organized by PEM and the Rijksmuseum.

PEM’s Asian Export Collection

The Peabody Essex Museum’s Asian Export Art Collection is the world’s most comprehensive collection of decorative art made in Asia for export to the West. Consisting of over 25,000 objects made in China, Japan and India for the Western market between the 15th and 21st centuries, items include works in porcelain, lacquer, paintings, silver, textiles, and ivory among others. The collection reflects the complex and fascinating interaction between the artistic and cultural traditions of East and West.

The Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in North America. At its heart is a mission to transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections and the vital importance of creative expression. Founded in 1799, the museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time—including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, as well as Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM’s campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, performance spaces and historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.

Eve Kahn recently wrote about the acquisition for The New York Times (28 August 2014).

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Janet said, on September 16, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Craig ~ Thank you so much for featuring PEM’s wonderful new acquisition!

    • Editor said, on September 17, 2014 at 2:47 am

      Oh, you’re welcome, Janet. I was delighted to see you quoted in The NY Times piece. All very exciting! -Craig

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: