- What’s On
The SSM celebrates the birth of easel painting in late-Ottoman Istanbul with a selection of 115 works from the museum’s collection. Featured are paintings by Halil Pasha, Hoca Ali Rıza, the Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi, Hüseyin Zekâi Pasha, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, Şevket Dağ, Hikmet Onat, Hüseyin Avni Lifij, İbrahim Çallı, Nazmi Ziya Güran and also the pioneering woman artist Mihri (Müşfik) Hanım.
The story begins with the first generation of artists sent abroad to study art in France, among them Osman Hamdi, founder of the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, who abandoned his law studies in 1860 to study painting in Paris in the studios of the Salon Orientalists Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Boulanger. Halil Pasha (as he was later known) followed in his footsteps in 1880.
Halil Pasha, like many of the first Western-style artists, had a military training. In 1862 the celebrated Maltese topographic artist Joseph Schranz spotted another bright student in the drawing classes at the Harbiye Military Academy, Süleyman Seyyid (1842-1913). He was sent off to study in Italy as well as Paris, returning to Istanbul in 1870 to teach at the military academy. But not for long though. He soon fell out with his contemporary and better known but obviously-not-so-sweet Şeker (Sugar) Ahmet, another painter to enjoy the boulevards of Paris. Seyyid painted the vivid still life of an orange below, and ended up teaching both French and art at the military medical school in Haydarpaşa, where he rose to the rank of colonel.
The show concludes with the work of the ‘1914 Generation’, a group of young talents forced to return to Turkey by the outbreak of the First World War – many of them influenced to varying degrees by the French Impressionists. They included Feyhaman Duran, Namık Kemal, Hikmet Onat and Nazmi Ziya (Güran), who painted the evocative Woman in Pink in a Chaise Longue, above.