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French or Dutch Turkomania, early 19th century


Depicted in standing position, with a sword in one hand and a club in the raised other, with a fur hat, long moustache and long coat, on a square base.

H. 58 cm


During the Dutch War of Independence from 1568 till 1648, the Dutch and Turks were allies against Roman Catholic Spain and the slogan of the Dutch was “liever Turks dan Paaps” (rather Muslim than Roman Catholic).

In 1612 the first Dutch ambassador arrived in Istanbul. Nevertheless, in Holland, there was also the image of the cruel and heretic Turk stemming from the frequent violent clashes between Dutch ships and the pirates from Algiers, usually called the “Turkish pirates”. When the Ottoman armies advanced against Vienna, in the eyes of many Europeans the Islam bent on destroying Christianity. Later in the early 19th century, although the Turkish threat to Europe was long gone, the image of the Turks deteriorated again because of the Greek uprising.

The Sultan Mahmud II understood that Turkey had to modernize along West European lines and among other things in 1808 he replaced the “picturesque” oriental clothing style with Western style clothing of black narrow legged trowsers, a high buttoned coat (stamboulis) and a fez instead of a turban; the clothing style of the present sculpture. In the 19th century the Ottoman Empire had become the “sick man of Europe”, posing no threat any longer, and “Turkomania”, interest in the exotic culture of the Ottoman Empire, became a trend in Europe. For instance toys in the form of (speaking) Turks became popular.

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