Calouste Gulbenkian revealed his passion for art at an early age. This reflected his origins in Cappadocia--a major crossroads of religions and art--and Constantinople--another crossroads of civilizations and the capital of the Romans, Greeks, and Ottoman Turks. Throughout his life, he assembled an eclectic and unique collection that was influenced by his travels and his personal taste, and sometimes involved lengthy and complex negotiations with the leading experts and specialist dealers. His collection now totals over 6,000 pieces from all over the world and dating from antiquity until the early twentieth century (including examples from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, Babylonia, Armenia, Persia, Islamic Art, Europe, and Japan). His attachment to the pieces that he acquired was so strong that he even called them his "children". Calouste Gulbenkian's collection of paintings includes works by Bouts, Van de Weyden, Lochner, Cima de Conegliano, Carpaccio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Guardi, Gainsborough, Romney, Lawrence, Fragonard, Corot, Renoir, Nattier, Boucher, Manet, Degas and Monet. A favourite sculpture of his was the marble original of Houdon's famous Diana, which had belonged to Catherine of Russia and which Gulbenkian purchased from the Hermitage Museum in 1930.
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This exhibition brings together a remarkable group of around sixty pieces, largely from Ottoman Turket and Safavid Iran.
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