VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Ottoman Reception Room
46071
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Only a few museums in the world present this type of reception room from a traditional Arab courtyard house. The interior in Dresden originally came from a Damascus-style residential house. It was made in the so-called “Turkish Rococo style”. The year 1225 (the Islamic calendar year, corresponding to 1810 AD) is inscribed on one of the pieces in the group, but the room might be older. In former times there were many hundreds of such rooms in Damascus, but relatively few still exist. The usual life span of an interior was no more than three or four generations. The interiors were repaired, reconditioned, or the decorations were replaced. The military conflicts during this period did not support the long-term preservation of this style. Most of the rooms still found in the orient have been heavily altered, i.e. rebuilt or over-painted and varnished, almost without exception. With these facts in mind, the Völkerkunde Museum in Dresden has received an original wooden interior of great value.

History of the Object
In 1898 Karl Ernst Osthaus, a collector of oriental art, travelled around the Orient collecting hand-made artwork in factories and bazaars. An Oriental interior was also supposed to make up part of his collection to no avail. He passed the responsibility to the German Consulate in Damascus. They in turn assigned the task to Hermann Burchardt, a German photographer living in Damascus. It was Burchardt who found an interior which he disassembled, packed and sent to Germany. When the wooden pieces finally arrived in Hagen, where Osthaus lived, the pieces were put in the attic of his villa and were quickly forgotten, It was only after Osthaus’ death in 1921 that the panels were rediscovered. One of the inheritors of the Osthaus estate was the art historian, Hellmuth A. Fritzsche, who came from Dresden. Thanks to him the Völkerkunde Museum received the room in 1930. Because of adverse circumstances and problems concerning exhibition space, the interior remained hidden from view. The years have left their mark on the room. The exuberant decorations are hardly recognizable under all the dirt and surface coatings. In 1998 the restoration of the Damascus Room began. Since July 2005 the Dresden Damascus room has been presented in the museum’s exhibition as a project in progress.

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Type
Architecture 
Materials
Poplar wood, walnut wood in peg and slot connections, paint and metal surfaces (tempera and glue colours, gold, copper, tin) 
Measurements
Surface area of 4 x 5,5 m Height: 5,7 m (110 single pieces) 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Damascus, Syria 
Geography
Syria 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; 18th Century - beginning of 19th Century 
Function
Used for receptions for guests and as a dwelling 
Acquisition
1930. Gift of Hellmuth A. Fritzsche who obtained it from the legacy of Karl Ernst Osthaus. 
Copyright
Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Foto: Anke Scharrahs 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden (Germany) 
Museum
Museum of Ethnography, Dresden 
Credit line
Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden 

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