Jean Baptiste Vanmour: Ambassador Cornelis Calkoen at his Audience with Sultan Ahmed III (1727 - 1730)


(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Flemish artist Jean Baptiste Vanmour (1671-1737). Cornelis Calkoen (1696-1764) was appointed as the Dutch ambassador to the Ottoman empire. As such he traveled to Istanbul and presented his letter of credence to the Ottoman Ahmed III (reign 1703-1730). The ceremony was held on September 14, 1727 at the Topkapi palace. Vanmour was a member of the group which traveled with Cornelis Calkoen and at the request of Calkoen Vanmour produced a set of about 60 paintings to commemorate this occasion. This painting shows the actual presentation of the letter of credence in the sultan’s private living quarters. Ahmed III is seated on the left while Cornelis Calkoen is in the center. Calkoen and the other members of his retinue are ceremonially dressed in kaftans as a sign of hospitality, but also to cover the clothing of the ‘non-believers’ . Cornelis Calkoen stayed as the Dutch ambassador until 1744. Painting from 1727-1730.

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