Cannes, 02/07/2016 – The Musée de la Castre at Cannes (F) proudly presented 18 restored objects from Tinco Lycklama’s Qajar collection of Persian art. The private viewing took place in the presence of Princess Eylah Qajar, Dutch consul Peter van Santen, and many officials from Cannes’ municipal authorities such as vice-mayor Thomas de Pariente involved with the cultural development of the French Riviera resort. And we were invited.
The 18 objects – including a number of unique paintings – are just a small part of the large collection of objects that Tinco Lycklama brought back from his travels through Persia in 1866-67. But, each single item is most precious and a fine example of the art produced by Persian artists under the Qajar dynasty. As Christophe Roustan Delatour, the museum’s assistant director, tells us, these objects go beyond the mere presentation of Qajar royalty and courtisans – it show us, for instance, how fabulous architecture, garden and landscaping were under the Qajars.
Tinco shipped many of his objects initially to his hometown of Beetsterzwaag (in Frisia), where he opened his first museum. He then moved the museum to Cannes (France) when he decided that this would be the city where he wanted to spend the rest of his life (at least in the winters, when the Dutch cold wasn’t beneficial for his health). Later, many objects that were temporarily upheld and stored in Damascus and Beyrouth (due to the political situation in the Ottoman empire), reached Cannes directly via Marseille. Tinco donated his collections to the city of Cannes and they became the cornerstone of the city’s museum. After being housed for many years at the town hall, it is today the major component of the Musée de la Castre – on Cannes’s seaside hilltop.
Throughout the history of the Lycklama Museum in Cannes, the collections have often been extremely neglected. Many objects have significantly deteriorated (and some are lost forever). However, over the past few decades, and in particular under the impetus of the current assistant director Christophe Roustan Delatour, plans were formulated and executed to revive these forgotten treasures and to bring Tinco’s memory (and his connection to the Qajars) back to life.
The many members of the extended Qajar family (present at the inauguration at the Musée de la Castre) have been very involved in the tremendous restoration works that these objects required. They contributed with funds but also with the passion they have for the cultural legacy of their dynasty.
Throughout 2017 significant initiatives are scheduled to further improve Tinco’s collection and turn it into a major cultural attraction in Cannes. This includes the restoration of two ancient halls in the Musée de la Castre which will be fully dedicated to Tinco and Qajar art. We have been invited to contribute to these efforts and, obviously, we will do so with a range of activities in both The Netherlands and France.
If you are visiting Cannes this Summer, here are the directions to the Musée de la Castre.