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In the then-gardens of Yıldız Palace and today’s Yıldız Park, Sultan Abdülhamid II established his imperial porcelain factory in the early 1890s. The Sultan’s interest in art, his desire to visit Western countries and discover new technologies and his thirst for reviving tile and ceramic art, which has been developed in Anatolia for centuries, all influenced the construction of the factory.
The factory began manufacturing immediately after it was built but as it was damaged by an earthquake in 1894, it has to be completely reconstructed and was done so by the Italian architect Raimondo d’Aronco. His work in Istanbul is described in Paolo Girardelli’s article ‘D’Aronco: Architect to the New Society’, in Cornucopia 46.
The factory was instrumental in meeting the demand of the city’s upper classes’ taste for European-style ceramics featuring idealised scenes of the Bosphorus. The building’s design, resembling a European medieval castle, is interesting and itself shows the era’s appetite for all things European.
Manufacturing at the factory was suspended with the dethronement of Abdülhamid II in 1909. Osman Hamdi Bey, who founded the Imperial Museum, wanted the factory to start manufacturing again as it was then attached to the Imperial Museum Directorate. Upon his death in 1910, his younger brother Halil Edhem Bey started preparations to re-open the factory and manufacturing re-commenced in 1911. Porcelain cups needed for telephone and telegraph insulators were the main items produced during the First World War. Today, it is still a factory and the attached museum sells its wares.
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