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The Sakıp Sabancı Museum maintains its status as one of Turkey’s most innovative cultural institutions with The Prince’s Extraordinary World: Abdülmecid Efendi. But in this case it does so not by crating in treasures from the Louvre or the Aga Khan Collection, but by mining its own historical backyard. The exhibition takes as it subject the art of the last Caliph and Crown Prince of the Ottoman Empire, who, though an accomplished painter, was content to play magpie with the styles of others. The show brings together many of the most ambitious works of this complex figure and is complemented by an exhibition on the floor above showing the influences of his contemporaries.
Also on display are the hopes and aspirations of a pre-First World War generation seen through the eyes of an Ottoman Camelot, a charmed circle that shone briefly, with all the contradictions that implies.
The 60 paintings and 300 documents assembled are the spoils of a huge endeavour of curatorial detective work which secured loans of items from private collections never before seen in public. Ephemera, such as banquet invitations, letters of introduction and photographs, document the networks that allowed the princeling to study under certain artists and become patron to others…
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