Sunday, April 26, 2015

Osman Hamdi Bey

The Tortoise Trainer
oil on canvas
221.5 × 120 cm
Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) was a  prominent and pioneering painter, Ottoman statesman, administrator, intellectual and art expert who put forth legislation aimed at regulating finds made by various archaeological enterprises in the Ottoman Empire and preventing the antiquities from being smuggled abroad.

He was also an accomplished archaeologist, and is considered as the pioneer of the museum curator's profession in Turkey. He was the founder of Istanbul Archaeology Museums and of ?stanbul Academy of Fine Arts, known today as the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.

He went to primary school in a popular Istanbul quarter, after which he studied Law, first in Istanbul and then in Paris. However, he decided to pursue his interest in painting instead, left the Law program, and trained under French orientalist painters. During his nine-year stay in Paris, he showed a keen interest for the artistic events of his day.

His taste and energy did much to establish the reputation of the museum and its impressive collection of Greco-Roman antiquities. Included among the treasures that he secured for the museum are the famous Greek sarcophagi found in the royal necropolis at Sidon (now in Lebanon) in 1887. These are outstanding examples of Greek art of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. and are perfectly preserved.