ABDULMECİD (1868-1944)

A Painting of  Abdulmecid

Abdülmecid was the son of Sultan Abdülaziz. He displayed a talent for painting at a very early age and was given lessons by various private teachers. He emerged, as şehzade (Prince), as a patron of art and artists. He was chosen honorary president of the Society of Ottoman Painters (Osmanlı Ressamlar Cemiyeti) and gave considerable financial support to the monthly journal published by the society. He sent examples of his paintings to the great annual exhibition in Paris, and on the occasion of the acceptance of one of his paintings Pierre Loti wrote to him to say how happy he was that Abdülmecid’s painting had been accepted. He sent the letter together with a letter from Cormon, the general secretary of the exhibition, who wrote. “Dear Master, I have pleasure in informing you that your painting has been accepted for exhibition. In spite of a few weak points, your painting possesses real artistic merit.”

    Abdülmecid Efendi had the same success at home as he had achieved abroad. One of his paintings being accepted for an exhibition held at Galatasaray

A painting of Abdülmecid

during the first years of the First World War. This and other works reveal him as a colorist, while the portrait in the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture of a court lady (Saraylı Hanım) and imaginary portraits such as those of Goethe and Beethoven in the Harem (Haremde Goethe) and (Haremde Beethoven) also reveal him as an accomplished portrait painter. I have seen a sketch for a portrait of the poet Abdulhak Hamit in the possession of his last wife, Lucienne Tarhan. Although the portrait is an excellent likeness of the poet his eyes are light in color, like those of Abdulmecid himself. The prince and the poet were very close friends in their youth, and used to ride on horseback round Ayazağa. The poet would sometimes look on while the prince painted. 



AIVAZOWSKY (1827-1900)

A painting of Aivazowsky

A painting of Aivazowsky

A painting of Aivazowsky

A painting of Aivazowsky

A painting of Aivazowsky



    Aivazowsky was a Russian painter from the city of Kefe (Feodosija) in the Crimea. The name indicates that he was of Armenian origin. He is thought to have painted some five thousand paintings, but was best known for his seascapes. He was thoroughly academic in his approach.

    He paid eight visits to Istanbul between 1845 and 1890, and the works he painted here gained him admittance to the court. The Sultans AbdüIlmecid, Abdülaziz and Abdülhamid II patronized him.

    Aivazowsky covered large canvases with flawless brush strokes, and gave great importance to the actual subject of his painting. He preferred themes connected with the sea, and all the three pictures exhibited here are seascapes.

These paintings - Steamship with Sails, Sea in Stormy Weather and Moonlight at Sea - clearly show the pleasure he took in recording every aspect of the sea and every different hour of the day.




    Ahmet Ziya remained almost completely unknown until the opening of the Istanbul Museum of Painting and A painting of Ahmet Ziya AkbulutSculpture in 1937, when Atatürk ordered every painter to donate two of his paintings to the museum. Until then, Ahmet Ziya was regarded as a teacher of perspective rather than a painter in his own right, and his paintings clearly show the great importance he accorded to perspective.

    His graduation from the Academy of Fine Arts was rather interesting. His teacher, Osman Hamdi Bey, asked him to paint the Sultanahmet Mosque as his graduation painting. Ahmet Ziya spent several weeks in the Hippodrome making a picture of the Mosque, as viewed from the Obelisk, with pains-taking accuracy. But the top of the entrance door appearing rather bare he filled in the empty space with a very beautiful, but purely imaginary, bay window. On examining the picture, Osman Hamdi Bey, the Principal of the Academy, decided to cut his marks on the grounds that he had “tampered with nature”. This painting is now exhibited in the Istanbul Museum of Painting and sculpture.

A painting of Ahmet Ziya Akbulut    As a painter, Ahmet Ziya was remarkably quiet, modest and reserved. He also worked for many years in the administration of the Fine Arts Academy. Sometimes he would walk through the studios, and if he happened to notice a mistake in perspective in a student’s work he could rarely restrain himself from correcting it himself. He never sent any of his work to exhibitions.





AKDİK, ŞEREF (1899-1972)

    Şeref Akdik was born in Fatih, a district of Istanbul. His father was calligrapher to the Court, and at the same time professor in the department of Decorative Arts in the Fine Arts Academy.

    After completing his primary and secondary education in Fatih he made the acquaintance of Hoca Ali Riza and Çallı İbrahim who, in 1915, arranged for his acceptance as a student in the Academy of Fine Arts. He was called up for seventeen months of military service during the First World War, their house in Fatih was burnt down, and these, and other similar events, prevented him from completing his education until 1924. A year later he won a scholarship from the government that allowed him to study in Paris, where he worked under Professor Albert Laurens in the Julian Academy. He returned to Istanbul in 1928.

He held his first exhibition in the Ankara Halkevi (Peoples Culture Center) in 1932, and won various awards both during his years in Paris and in State exhibitions in Ankara. He was one of the ten painters chosen by the ruling People’s Republican Party to tour the country and paint pictures that would add interest and color to the people’s lives. It was during this period that he painted works such as “Railway Workshop in Sivas” “At the Machine” and “Station”. In 1951 he was appointed to a teaching post in the Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1957 he held his first retrospective exhibition in the Şehir Galerisi (Municipal Gallery) in Istanbul, now known as the State Gallery of Fine Arts. He retired from the Academy in 1964, and in 1965 held his second and last retrospective exhibition, in which eighty-seven works were exhibited.

    Şeref Akdik might be said to have specialized in portrait painting and, like Feyhaman, was particularly successful in this genre. He painted landscapes in oil as well as a number of watercolors. He also practiced calligraphy, but as a calligrapher was far inferior to his father.


ALİ PASHA, AHMET (1841-1906)

    Ahmet Ali Pasha was generally know as “Şeker” Ahmet Pasha, the Turkish word şeker being the equivalent of the English sugar. One day, while Ahmet Ali was on duty with Prince Yusuf Izzettin Efendi, who knew the nickname, Sultan Abdulaziz ordered one of his aides to call “Ahmet Ali” The aide failed to

A painting of Sugar Ahmet Pasha

A painting of Sugar Ahmet Pasha

A painting of Sugar Ahmet Pasha

understand who the Sultan meant, and turned helplessly to Yusuf Izzettin Efendi, who said, very naturally, He means our “Sugar Ahmet!” The Sultan burst out laughing, and after that the painter was always known by this nickname.

    Şeker Ahmet Pasha was born in Üsküdar. His father, Ali Efendi, sent him to school at the age of five. In 1855 he succeeded in the entrance examination for the Military School. At the age of eighteen he was appointed teacher of art in the Medical School. Sultan Abdulaziz liked his work and sent him to Paris immediately after Süleyman Seyyit. At that time Ahmet Ali was twenty-two or twenty-three years old. He spent one year in acquiring knowledge of French, and then worked first in the studio of Gustave Boulanger and afterwards under Jean-Leon Gerome at the Academy of Fine Arts. When Sultan Abdulaziz visited Paris during his European tour the first thing he did was to pay a visit to the Turkish Pavilion in the International Fair. Here his attention was attracted by a large-scale pen-and-ink portrait of himself signed “His humble servant Ahmet AIi”. Other works by Ahmet Ali were accepted for exhibitions in 1869 and 1870.

    After spending a year in Rome, Ahmed Ali returned to Turkey after an absence of eight years to resume work as a teacher of art in the Medical School. Ahmet Ali Bey held his first public exhibition in the could be given military rank, and at that time civilians could be given military ranks, and Ahmet Ali received very rapid advancement in the service. He entered court service as adjutant to the Sultan, and here he began to set up a collection of paintings consisting of works by painters such as Gerome, Daubigny, Schrayer, Yvon, Boulanger, Harpignies and Van Moor. The collection also included works by Guillement and Aivazowsky, who were working in Istanbul at that time.

    In 1895 Şeker Ahmet Pasha was appointed to Court Protocol, but he had little time to spare for official duties apart from his teaching of art. He converted the upper floor of his mansion at Mercan into a studio, and worked on immense compositions. A very few his paintings are now to be found in museums and palaces.






ALİ RIZA, HOCA (1858-1930)

A painting of Hodja Ali Rıza

A painting of Hodja Ali Rıza

A painting of Hodja Ali Rıza

A painting of Hodja Ali Rıza

    His father, Mehmet Rüştü, was a major in the cavalry. Ali Riza was known as “Usküdarlı” after the district of Istanbul in which he was born, while he earned the nickname “Hoca” by spending most of his life teaching.

    Ali Bey graduated from the Military School in 1883. While still at school he joined a group of his friends in asking the principal of the school, Field Marshal Ethem Pasha (the father of Osman Hamdi and Halil Ethem) to allow them to set up a studio in the school. Their art teacher was Nun Pasha and Ali Riza later took lessons from Süleyman Seyyit Bey and Mehmet Kez. He taught art for forty-eight years. At the same time, to facilitate the teaching of art in schools, he brought out an album of lithographs printed by the School of military science, which would enable students to learn how to draw by copying the pictures.

    Hoca Ali Riza differed from most other painters of the time in so far as the never visited Europe, and thus never had the opportunity of visiting a museum or art gallery. He was also remarkable for his extraordinary powers of observation. He was chosen president of the Society of Ottoman Painters on its foundation in 1908. He died in 1930 of a brain hemorrhage and was buried in the cemetery of Karacaahmet, which he loved so much.

    Hoca Ali Riza remained quite untouched by the influence of any foreign painters. He painted direct from nature, which he declared to be his finest teacher. His powers of observation were so exceptional that although most of his pictures were products of his imagination it would be impossible to distinguish them from works of direct observation if it were not for the words “From Imagination” written below them.

    Ali Riza displayed a facility in painting that is normally only to be found in very great artists. He would work with quite extraordinary rapidity, as if the blank white paper in front of him already displayed preliminary sketch of the picture he was painting. His greatest enjoyment was to be found in painting. In 1933 an exhibition of more than two hundred sketches, watercolors, gouaches and oil paintings was opened in the Eminönü Halkevi, now the Istanbul Society of Journalists. Further exhibitions were held in Ankara in 1958 and in the Istanbul Municipal Gallery in January 1960. A large number of his works, which had remained in the possession of his son, became the property of the National Library after the Ankara exhibition. His approach to nature was naturalistic but the coloring was definitely impres­sionistic.







BOYAR, ALİ SAMİ (1880-1960)

    Ali Sami was born in Istanbul, the son of Hacı Hüseyin Hüsnü Efendi one of the first students in the Artillery School. His love of painting dated back to his early childhood, his first sitter being his elder brother who also drew.

    Ali Sami Boyar entered the Naval School In 1892 and received special encouragement from his teachers. He graduated 1898, after which he worked in the drawing office of the Naval Shipbuilding Yard, while at the same time continuing his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. He graduated from the Academy in 1908 and two years later was sent to Paris, where he worked with Cormon in the Paris School of Fine Arts.

    Ali Sami had to return to Turkey on the outbreak of war in 1914. He retired from the army in the same year with the rank of captain, and the rest of his life was spent as principal of various schools and as a studio teacher in the Academy of Fine Arts. He visited England as the designer of the first stamps and coins of the Republican period, and seized these opportunities to hold an exhibition there. His works are to be found in various collections in both Europe and the United States.

    Ali Sami Boyar regularly contributed works to the exhibitions arranged by The Academy of Fine Arts. He was also an author, his printed works including a hook entitled “Ayasofya” which he wrote during his last post as Director of the Ayasofya Museum.



A painting of Sabiha Bozcalı

A painting of Sabiha Bozcalı

    Sabiha Rüştü was the daughter of Rüştü Pasha and the granddaughter of Memduh Pasha, a former Minister of the Interior. She was born in Istanbul. In those days girls never went to school, normally receiving their education from private tutors, but with the help of her uncle. Sabiha Rüştü managed to go to Italy and study to Rome, making copies of the works in the Vatican collection in order to be able to afford lessons from a famous teacher. During the Armistice period after the end of the First World War she worked in the Haiman studio in Berlin, and then studied for three year in the Munich Academy. She also worked for a year together with Namık İsmail in the Corinth studio. She contributed works to the Galatasaray exhibitions of 1922 and 1923, but these consisted entirely of sketches. She revealed herself as having a fine command of line in the style of the Western masters. “Design is the basis of all painting”.

    After her return from Europe she spent the years 1926-1928 continuing to paint in her old friend Namık Ismail’s studio in the Academy of Fine Arts. At the same time she regularly contributed works to the annual exhibitions in the Galatasaray Lycee. Many years passed by in this way. As a painter she gave great importance to mirroring truth and reality in everything she painted. She visited Paris and Rome, and in 1931 she worked in Paris with the pointillist painter Paul Signac. During her three years stay in Paris she painted portraits of Signac’s wife and daughter. She was particularly successful in three types of painting: landscapes, flowers and portraits. She converted the stable of her villa at Kireçburnu into a studio and produced very large-scale paintings there. In 1 947-1949 she worked in Rome with Severini, Massimo Cam pigli, De Pisis and the founder of modern Italian painting, De Chirico.

    Sabiha Bozcalı, was at the same time a highly accomplished illustrator, and for twenty-five years she contributed illustrations to the newspapers. She also illustrated works such as Nezihe Araz’s Anatolian Saints (Anadolu Evliyaları), and Yunus Emre, and made a number of designs and sketches for the Istanbul Encyclopedia edited by Reşat Ekrem Koçu.


ÇALLI, İBRAHIM (1882-1960)


A Painting of İbrahim Çallıı

A Painting of İbrahim Çallı

A Painting of İbrahim Çallı

İbrahim Çallı, was born in the country town of Çal in the province of Denizli. He first won recognition as Çallı İbrahim (İbrahim of Çal), but later changed his name to İbrahim Çallı.

    When still very young he stuffed the little money he had managed to save into his belt and set out for Istanbul. Here he was the typical innocent in the great city. He had all his money stolen and was forced to earn his living by working in a coffeehouse in Çemberlitaş. Here his intelligence and energy attracted the attention of the painter Şeker Ahmet Pasha who, impressed by his artistic talent, managed to get him into the Academy of Fine Arts. The other students were at first rather ill at ease with the newcomer, who was somewhat older than they were and who would come to the Faculty in his peasant clothes with a sash round his waist. But İbrahim Çallı, ‘s warm and friendly disposition soon won their hearts.

    In 1910 Çallı won a scholarship to Paris, where he showed an interest in almost all types of painting. On his return to Istanbul after a four years’ stay he was appointed to a teaching post in the Academy of Fine Arts, where his studio became a sort of sanctuary for those who wished to work in freedom. Çallı always allowed his students to follow their instincts without reference to any hard and fast rules or dogmatic principles. He was also a very amusing and witty conversationalist. His house, a two-storied building just beside the Academy of Fine Arts (which had just been burnt down) was always thronged with visitors, and some students, among them the painter Turgut Zaim, lived there permanently.

    Although Çallı was essentially an Impressionist, other styles were grafted on to his own from time to time. When former students like Kocamemi or Ali Çelebi returned to Turkey after studying with Hoffmann in Germany, Call, would have no inhibitions about interrogating them at great length about the methods of work they had acquired and about finding out as much as he could about German Expressionism. When Leopold L6vy was appointed head of the department of

    Painting in the Academy of Fine Arts he made no objection to this state of affairs. As a matter of fact he very much approved of it. When it was time for Çallı to retire he remarked very bitterly, “The civil servant has retired. An artist can never retire....”

    He was well known for his complaints about money. On one occasion President İnönü presented a gold watch to a young cellist whose concert he had just attended. This was in the 1940’s. Call, had several times taken his pictures to the Presidential palace but never succeeded in selling any. “Oh God;’ he cried, “A deaf president presents awards to musicians. Send us painters a blind minister of culture!”

    In spite of his bohemian style of life Çallı painted a number of very fine works, headed by portraits of Atatürk and İnönü. Copies of these were once printed and hung in all government offices. His preferred subjects were portraits. Flowers (magnolias), and landscapes with figures.


ÇELEBI, ALİ AVNI (b. 1904)

    A Painting of Ali Avni ÇelebiAli Çelebi was born in Istanbul, and at the age of fourteen entered the Academy of Fine Arts where he studied from 1918 to 1922. In 1922 he left for Germany to carry on his studies there at his own expense, but the Ministry of Education later awarded him a grant to cover the cost of his education.

    He spent five years working in Hans Hoffmann‘s private studio in Munich, producing constructivist paintings in which he attempted to depict the position, volume and weight of objects in space by means of lines and planes. He had a masterly command of the techniques of his craft.

    On his return to Turkey he was appointed teacher of art in a girls’ school in Konya, where he worked from 1931 to 1935, when he was transferred to the Faculty of Arts in the University of Istanbul. Here he was employed as designer in the Department of Archaeology. Three years later he was transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts.

    In 1928, after his return to Turkey, Ali Çelebi joined with a few friends in founding the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors. He contributed to the first exhibition in the Ethnographical Museum in Ankara, where his works immediately attracted public attention by the stress laid on mass in construction, shape and form. The latest works by Ali Çelebi were exhibited in the Kile Gallery at Bebek in 1982.








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