The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has just announced : the acquisition of a singular collection of more than 100 rare early 18th-century Indian textiles made for export to the Netherlands. The collection which includes hand-painted chintz palampores (bed covers), an embroidered palampore, banyans, as well as extraordinary examples of Dutch costumes, was assembled in the Netherlands between the 1920s and 1960s by A. Eecen-van Setten. The acquisition has been funded by anonymous donors. 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 Indian cotton was commonly referred to as chintz (in Dutch - sits) 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.
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. For more details, click here.