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A 1700s jacket of India cotton, pieced from several chintz patterns, from the Eecen-van Setten collection. Credit Peabody Essex Museum

SALEM, MASS.- The Peabody Essex Museum announced 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.

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’s Asian Export Art Collection is the world’s most comprehensive collection of decorative art made in Asia for export to the West.

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