Ladies and gentlemen,
We have gathered here today for the opening of a unique exhibition. For the first time ever a large collection of blue and white Chinese porcelain and celadon from the Topkapi Palace Museum and The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul is presented to a foreign audience.
It is indeed a privilege for Stockholm and the Mediterranean Museum to be able to host this world premiere and for me to open it.
In Sweden Chinese porcelaine has been treasured for centuries. Queen Kristina received two magnificent Chinese urns as a gift from the Portuguese ambassador and through the Swedish East Asia Company Swedish noble families ordered their own sets of china with family crests and other personal decorations already in the early 18th century. As you all know late King Gustaf VI Adolf was a keen collector of Chinese art, not least porcelain.
Therefore I am convinced that the exhibition we are about to open today is going to attract many interested visitors. Each object has a story to tell and together the collection gives us an impression of the grand life at the Topkapi Palace, which was the official residence of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire during four hundred years. Traditions and ceremonies around the splendid banquets were not only ingredients of social behavior. They were also used to demonstrate power and political purposes and all over Europe the aristocracy learnt to appreciate the blue and white porcelaine.
The visit to the Topkapi Palace Museum during His Majesty´s and my State Visit to Turkey in 2006 is still a very clear and dear memory. The collections are impressive in richness and inspiring in mysteriousness. While walking around you feel the winds of history and your imagination takes you far away from the buzzling life of today´s Istanbul.
With these words I have the great pleasure to declare the exhibition « Blue and White » open.
Thank you and good luck !