Celebrating Tinco Lycklama à Nijeholt Cannes, July 2017

During the month of July 2017, Debra and I spent a wonderful twelve days on vacation in Cannes and Provence. The primary motivation for visiting Cannes was the opening of an exhibit at the Musée de la Castre celebrating the life of a distant relative of mine, the Baron Tinco Martinus Lycklama à Nijeholt. Although I had been aware of this man from an article I had read in the travel section of our local newspaper sometime in the late 70's, and had previously visited this museum in 1989, I knew very little about the man himself. In early 2017 I became aware that an organization had started to collect information about him, and that they were planning to celebrate his life with an exhibition at the museum. With my curiosity thus piqued, and with Debra as an eager travel companion, we began planning a journey to Cannes to attend the vernissage.

Banner marking the entrance to Musée de la Castre

So I sent an email to the organization to inquire about the exhibition, and was connected with George Homs. George was very helpful in providing information about the exhibition, so once we committed to travelling to Cannes, we arranged to meet George a couple of days before the vernissage for a coffee at Café de l’Horloge near the Marché Forville. A man of Dutch descent, George resides in Cannes near Rue Lycklama. Puzzled about how a Frisian name came to adorn a street in Cannes, he began to do some research and learned that this man had donated his artifacts to the city, a collection which would later form the foundation of Musée de la Castre. This sparked his curiosity into learning more about this fascinating Frisian adventurer and socialite, so he connected with Hans Zijlstra and Wibo Boswijk in the Netherlands, and together they created the Lycklama Foundation in Amsterdam.

George has a voracious appetite for history and culture, and possesses a wealth of information about Tinco that he, along with several others, had collected for the exhibit. Our scheduled kaffeeklatsch effortlessly turned into a three hour discussion, and we parted ways excitedly anticipating the museum opening.

Front and back of our invitation to the vernissage.
Me, George Homs, and Debra (and Tinco)

George invited us to attend a walk-about of the area where Tinco lived the following evening, along with about twenty others who had travelled down from the Netherlands to attend the opening. Amongst them included Ellen van Selm, the mayor of Opsterland (the region containing Beetsterzwaag, the village where Tinco was born); Hans Zijlstra and Wibo Boswijk, the other two founding members of the Tinco Lycklama Foundation; Jikke Huisman, the daughter of Ernst Huisman, who for over four decades has kept the memory of Tinco alive by collecting memorabilia and publishing articles about him; Heleen Verhage and other members of the Historic Beetsterzwaag Foundation; members of the cultural community such as Gerhild van Rooij and Martine Mees of Cultbee; and others.

A trip back in time.
These two adjacent homes were donated by Tinco and his wife Juliana to the local Catholic parish, which then built a church on the adjoining property.

On the day of the vernissage the Frisian flag was hoisted to the top of the Musée de la Castre, a castle constructed in the twelfth century and situated on the top of a small hill in the city. This ancient castle became the eventual home of Tinco's collection in the early 20th century, as it was originally housed in the upper floors of the Hôtel de Ville (city hall). Perched on top of a hill in the historic Suquet district, the castle and the flag are clearly visible throughout the city.

Flying proudly over the city of Cannes.
The museum is housed in a 12th century castle.

The exhibition about to take place at the museum was well advertised throughout the city of Cannes, as we frequently saw promotions in shop windows, in local magazines and plastered on billboards everywhere. Most prominent were the large posters along la Croisette, the elegant boulevard along the waterfront frequented by the stars during the annual Cannes film festival. A website was also set up to promote the exhibition.

Posters, banners and tourist magazine listings announcing the upcoming exhibit.

The exhibition opening, or vernissage, arrived on the evening of July 8, 2017. In attendance were the mayor of Opsterland, the mayor of Cannes, the Dutch Consul for the south of France, the museum curator and about 300 people, including of course the people from the Netherlands we had met the previous night.

The mayors of Cannes (left) and Opsterland sign a cultural agreement between the two cities lasting the next 18 months, while the Dutch Consul overlooks.

A group photo with most of the Dutch contingent. Wearing an orange tie bearing the "tree" from the Lycklama à Nijeholt family crest are Wibo Boswijk and Hans Zijlstra; in front and to their right are Jikke & Toon Dickoff Huisman (she is the daughter of Ernst Huisman), and to their left is David Lisnard, mayor of Cannes, Ellen van Selm, mayor of Opsterland, and Heleen Verhage of Historisch Beetsterzwaag.

Hans Mensink and us.
Christian and Willemijn, they got married six weeks after this event!
Wibo, Gerhild, and several other members of the Netherlands contingent.

Several hundred people are in attendance for the opening. Note the banner from Opsterland on the museum wall announcing Leeuwarden as the European Capital of Culture for 2018, shown in more detail below.

The mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, gave a lengthy speech in French, unfortunately my French isn't good enough to understand most of what he said. Ellen van Selm, the mayor of Opsterland, gave a speech in both Dutch and French, but sadly my Dutch comprehension levels are equally poor. However, the Dutch consul Peter van Santen gave his speech in Dutch, French, and English, you can watch the English portion below in which he talks about the funeral of Tinco in 1900.

After all the ceremonies and speeches were complete, the attendees were able to enter the museum to see the exhibits, including the new space set aside for Tinco Lycklama. At the age of 28, Tinco set out in 1865 on a three-year solitary journey thru Russia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, spending lengths of time in the areas of what are now known as Iran, Iraq and Syria. He collected many artifacts along his journey, and kept a daily journal which became the source for a 2,200 page opus that documents his journey and experiences. Following his journey he and his collection settled back in his hometown of Beetsterzwaag for a few years, but after making Cannes his winter home he eventually decided to move there. In 1877 Tinco donated his collection to the city of Cannes, which eventually found a home in the Musée de la Castre. You can learn a great deal more about his life and voyages by visiting the foundation website: https://tincolycklama.org.

At the main entrance to the exhibit.
Typical artifacts located within the museum.

At one time it was thought that there were two oil paintings made of Tinco (the one on the right is a B&W photo of the presumed missing rendition). Note the addition of the young black boy holding a tray, and modifications made to his robe. However, using modern X-ray technology, it was discovered that the modifications were added to the original, and hence there is only one such painting of Tinco.

Tinco in Oriental garments.
Depiction of a fabulous ball at Villa Lycklama.
From left-to-right: travel essentials; silk handkerchief; New Testament (in Frisian); patent of Nobility delivered to Tinco's grandfather from King Willem I in 1817.

Afterward the exhibit, we all went out for dinner and drinks. I was given this pin from the Lycklama Foundation, which depicts the "tree" from the Lycklama à Nijeholt coat of arms.

The pin I was given; family crest hanging in my home.

The vernissage was a very successful event to kickoff the exhibition that continues at the Musée de la Castre until the end of October. There are plans to move this exhibit to Beetsterzwaag in Friesland next year to coincide with Leeuwarden's celebration as the European Capital of Culture for 2018, and we're looking forward to enjoying this and the rest of Friesland next summer!

Some press coverage, both Dutch and French:

More information

To find out more about Tinco, or to learn about the upcoming exposition happening in Friesland next year, you can visit any of the following web sites:

Created By
Ed Lycklama


All photos © Ed Lycklama

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