HASAN RIZA (1864-1914)

    Hasan Riza, like his teacher Hoca Ali Riza, was born in Üsküdar in Istanbul. He began drawing pictures at a very early age, and the walls of the house were covered with enormous charcoal drawings of ships and galleons. During his years at primary and secondary school he was encouraged by his teacher to take up a more disciplined study of art. The war between Turkey and Russia known as the War of ‘93, broke out in 1877 just as the was finishing Lycee, and Hasan Riza, in spite of his youth, enlisted as a volunteer a step for which he was prepared by his education at a military school. An Italian painter was assigned to his regiment as war reporter and placed under Hasan Riza’s supervision. The two artists soon became very close friends.

    After the war Hasan Riza was sent back to Military School but soon transferred to the Naval Academy. While at this school he often visited the old Italian painter, who had now settled down in Heybeli.

    Hasan Riza was an absolutely indefatigable worker. During the year he was to become naval officer he undertook the restoration of the paintings in the Sultaniye, the ship used by the Sultan Abdülhamit. Surrounded by jealousy and malicious gossip Hasan Riza finally left for Italy, where he worked in various studios in Rome, Florence and Naples. He later crossed to Egypt, where he examined the historical antiquities. He returned to his own country twelve years later for family reasons. He was brought up before the Admiral of the Fleet but although he was technically a deserter he was offered his old rank. He refused the offer, preferring to remain free, and resigned completely from the armed forces.

     During the Balkan War he acted as director of a hospital in Edirne, and at the same time had a studio at Karaağaç, on the outskirts of the city. There he devoted his spare time to the creation of an album of Ottoman history, an enormous work in hachure technique. The war ended with the defeat of the Ottoman army, and as no reinforcements arrived to help the besieged garrison in Edirne the governor of the garrison, .Şükrü Pasha, was forced by the lack of provisions to surrender the city to the enemy. Hasan Rıza left the hospital and made his way to his studio in Karaağaç, where he was killed trying to save his work from destruction at the hands of the Bulgarian soldiers.

KALMUKOĞLU, NACI (1896-1956)

    A Painting of Naci KalmukoğluNaci Kalmukoğlu was a Kalmuk Turk from Russia. His original name was Kalmikoff After the Revolution he came with his family to Turkey, where he suffered very great hardships. He finally became a Turkish citizen.

    He was a master of still life, landscape and portrait painting. He worked according to strict academic principles in the style of Zonaro, and his large-scale paintings have a touch of the fresco.

    He normally chose a highly popular style of painting, which he could perform with great speed and facility. He worked as decorator in the Ankara Halkevi in the years immediately following its first foundation.

    A nervous breakdown, the cause of which is unknown, drove him to commit suicide by throwing himself from the window of his studio in Parmakkapi in Istanbul. His slippers were found beside the window. Collections of his works can be found in the possession of Burhan Soydan, the son of Mehmet Bey of Vodina, at Erdek, and of Muammer Bey of Kadiköy..


    A Painting of Kasımpaşalı HilmiHilmi was born in Kasimpaşa in Istanbul, and the cognomen KasimpaşaIı refers to the place of his birth. His father’s name was Süleyman. Hilmi was educated at Daruşşafaka, entering the school in 1881 and graduating in 1889. Nothing is known of his life following this date apart from the fact that at one time he was employed as a customs officer. The date of his death is also unknown.

    A landscape painting of the pavilions in the ground of Yıldız Saray is to be seen in the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture. The artist is thought to have worked from a postcard.



    Edip Hakkı Köseoğlu was born in Istanbul. After completing his secondary education at the Kadiköy Lycee, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts. From here he graduated in 1927, with his name high on the list of those to be sent to Europe for further training. He went to Paris, where he studied at the School of Applied Arts. On his return to Turkey in 1933 he was appointed teacher in the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul where he continued to teach in the department of decorative arts until his retirement.

    After his return from Paris, Edip Hakkı contributed to a number of exhibitions, in addition to carrying out his teaching duties in the Academy. The picture “Water Buffalos”,which he painted about this time, proved so popular that he returned to the same theme on a number of occasions. In 1940 he was one of a number of artists sent by the Republican People’s Party to work in various parts of the country. He was a member of the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors and contributed works to their exhibitions.

LAGA, MEHMET ALİ (1878-1947)

    A Painting of Mehmet Ali LagaMehmet Ali belonged to the Zafiri family, which came originally from Tripoli in Syria. He graduated from the Military School in 1898 and in 1904 settled in Istanbul. Three years later he was promoted to the rank of captain and attached as staff officer to the Imperial Guards. After the declaration of the Second Constitution in 1908 he lost his position in the Guards and was appointed teacher of art in the Kuleli Military School, where he worked for six years. After the outbreak of the First World War he was transferred to the Bursa Military Lycee and, in 1919, to the HaIıcıoğlu Secondary School.

    Mehmet Ali Laga specialized in landscape painting and employed an Impressionist technique with broad brush strokes.



Hüseyin Avni’s family came from Cuban in Caucasia. In 1877 they settled in Kayak, in the province of Samsun, and it was here that House yin was born in 1889. The family moved to Istanbul a few months later.

    His father Abdullah Efendi, could neither read nor write, and knew no Turkish. Avni began his education at the local school but at the same time he would save up the pocket money from his father to pay for private lessons in French from the well-known teacher Alexandre Friedrich (Iskender Ferit) in Beyoglu He learned the language very quickly, and could books on art. He also began secretly to draw.

    At the age of eighteen he met Henri Prost, who at that time was making drawings of Istanbul, and the two became very good friends. Through Frost he made the acquaintance of Osman Bey, to whom he showed his paintings, including the self-portrait now hanging in the Museum of Painting and Sculpture in Istanbul Thanks to Osman Hamdi Bey’s help and guidance and to the patronage of Sehzade (Prince) Abdülmecid he was sent to Paris, where he entered the studio of Cormon in the School of Fine Arts.

    After his return to Turkey in 1912, after five years’ study in France, he spent two years as teacher of art in the Kandilli Lycee for Girls. He continued his friendship with sehzade Abdülmecid, and it was at the Prince’s request that he began a series of paintings of religious ceremonies. He also wrote a number of books on artistic themes.

    He sometimes employed allegory in his paintings, and although he worked in the Impressionist manner he displayed the obvious influence of Symbolism.


A Painting of Leonardo de Mango

    Leonardo de Mango was born in Biscigli a country town near Ban in Italy. He became interested in art at a very early age and spent eight years studying at the Naples Academy. On finishing the Academy in 1867 he worked for a short time and then set out on travels that took him all along the north coast of Africa from Tripoli to Damascus, in the course of which he painted the landscapes with camels and pyramids that made him famous. He stayed for some time in Egypt, principally in Cairo.

    Mango arrived in Istanbul in 1883 and was appointed teacher in the Academy of Fine Arts by ferman of the Sultan. He painted a portrait of Sultan Abdülhamit II. At the same time he painted a number of landscapes of Istanbul, preferring subjects such as old palaces, views of the Bosphorus village of Vanikoy, and the old streets of Eyüp.

    When all Italians were expelled from Istanbul in retaliation for the Italian invasion of Tripoli in 1911, Mango was deprived of his post the medals he had been awarded and forced to leave the country. He left behind him most of the paintings he had painted in Istanbul which are still to be seen in the Palace of Dolmabahçe and in the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture.

MUALLA, FIKRET (1904-1967)

    Fikret Mualla was a very unusual type of painter as he spent most of his life in Paris he signed his pictures with the French version of his name. An accident to his ankle in childhood left him lame for he rest of his life. He drank a great deal, and detested the police. As a matter of fact his hatred of the police reached such a state of paranoia that he suspected everyone around him of being a secret agent He spent some time in a mental home under treatment for alcoholism, and on leaving hospital he walked the whole thirty kilometers from Bakirköy to Istanbul on foot.

    The best years of his life were spent after the death of his father, from whom he inherited a not inconsiderable fortune. In spite of that, the first thing he would do on arriving from Paris on a visit to Istanbul was to look around for someone who would be willing to put him up.

    Fikret Mualla was temperamentally very highly strung. He was incapable of submitting to the discipline of an art school. He would take orders from no one. His art was the only thing to which he lent any real importance. In 1937 he settled finally in Paris, and during his last years Madame Angles acted as his guardian an get preventing the destruction of his paintings and making his life as comfortable for him as possible. Finally she put him up in her house in the small, remote mountain village of Reillane. By that time his left side had become completely paralyzed, and the found it very difficult to work. In 1967 he had one of his old nervous break­downs and was taken first to the Menesque hospital and then to a rest home, where he died in the July of that year.

    Fikret Mualla produced a large number of pictures in gouache, watercolor and oils. The sketches he dashed off to pay for his drinks in the bars he frequented sold later for thousands of francs. He worked very freely on a very limited number of themes such as bars, bistros, people drinking and Paris streets. He employed very unusual combinations of color, with red and blue predominating in a graphic design.

MUAZZEZ (1871-1956)

    Muazzez, usually known as Ressam Muazzez (Painter Muazzez) first attended the Naval Industrial School then, after graduating from there, entered the Academy of Fine Arts, from which he graduated five years later

    Muazzez was an extremely amusing, odd sort of man. He could do excellent imitations of Albanians and the natives of the Black Sea coast He loved to take part in performances of the old Turkish improvised type of play (ortaoyunu), and in the shadow play known as Karagöz. In his book on painters Pertev Boyar refers to him as a “reciter of monologues”

    In 1930 Ressam Muazzez was appointed principal of the Academy of Fine Arts, Although it formed no part of his duties he could never restrain himself from stopping and correcting the students’ paintings at any time he happened to be passing through the studios. He preferred portrait painting, particularly portraits of actors, whom he loved to paint actually taking part in a play.

ONAT, HiKMET (1882-1977)

A Painting of Hikmet Onat

A Painting of Hikmet Onat

A Painting of Hikmet Onat

A Painting of Hikmet Onat

    Hikmet Onat was born in Fındıklı in Istanbul the son of a Naval Commander, Murat Bey After completing his secondary education in the Feyziye and Kasimpasa Middle Schools he entered the Naval Academy and, after graduating from here, he was prompted by his love of art to continue his education at the Academy of fine Arts, from which he also graduated. After the declaration of the Second Constition in 1908 he passed an exam for a bursary Paris offered by the Ministry of Education, upon which he resigned from his position in the navy.

    After passing the entrance exam for the School of Fine Arts in Paris he spent for years in the Cormon studio. He returned to Turkey on the outbreak of the First World War and worked first as a teacher in the Academy of Fine Arts, and then as a studio instructor. He retired in 1949.

    His teaching duties left him practically no time for painting, and he would sometimes say that it was only after he retired that he realized he was a painter. This is confirmed by the fact that after his retirement he produced a large number of landscapes in rapid succession. He loved painting direct from nature in the open air, and would start painting every day at exactly the same time. He almost always chose some aspect of the Bosphorus as the theme of his paintings, with caiques, trees and villas reflected in the quiet waters.

    Throughout the whole of his life Hikmet Onat remained strongly under the influence of the education he had been given in the family and the discipline he had received at the Naval School. He was an honest and upright head of a family, an affectionate father, and a conscientious worker, As a painter he saw nature as a reflection of his inner world and not merely as a conglomeration of earth, stones, trees and sea. His approach to the external world was identical with prayer He quite rightly denied that he was an Impressionist His pictures present scenes of various parts of Istanbul particularly of the Bosphorus, treated in documentary fashion. He would go out to paint in the early hours of the morning, when he felt at ease in the quietness and tranquility. He loved walking. Al the age of ninety-five he would still walk from Osmanbey to his house in Cihangir a distance of four or five kilometers through the center of the city.

    Hikmet Onat contributed regularly to exhibitions, from those at Galatasaray to those arranged by the Association of Fine Arts. He also participated in the State Exhibitions of Painting and Sculpture. He held only one exhibition of his works in Istanbul, the retrospective exhibition held in the Akbank Gallery at Osmanbey in 1977. He died just one month after the close of the exhibition.


    Her original name was Kainat Barkan. Her husband, Peter Pajonk (pronounced Payonk) is of Yugoslav extraction.

    She was born in Istanbul, and after completing her secondary education she entered the Academy of Fine Arts. For some time after her graduation she worked privately, contributing to a number of different exhibitions. She spent some time in Germany on a business trip with her husband, and visited museums and galleries in various cities.

RENKGORUR, SERIF (1887-1947)

    Şerif Renkörür was a graduate of the War Academy. After the end of the Balkan War he worked for a time in Germany and on his return to Turkey he very quickly won recognition as a painter of watercolors. He took lessons from Halil Pasha and worked in the Ankara Halkevi during the years 1944-1945. He took ill in 1946 and died the following year

SAFI, IBRAHIM (1898-1983)

    Ibrahim Safi (originally Safiyef) was born in Caucasia. He lost his father at the age of three and suffered very great hardship during his childhood. He displayed a talent for painting while still a pupil at the Erivan Lycee. After the Revolution he immigrated to Turkey where he changed his name to Ibrahim Safi.

    He completed his art education, which he had begun at the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts, in the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, graduating from that institution in 1923. He continued to paint for seventy years, and exhibitions of his work at home and abroad won recognition both for the painter himself and for Turkish painting in general. He earned his living entirely by his brush and never entered government employment. He died on the day of the opening of his hundredth exhibition.

    Ibrahim Safi was an Impressionist in his approach to painting. He loved bright colours, and his paintings were dominated by sunshine and dark purple shadows. His approach could be described as a sort of “Academic Impressionism” He combined Impressionism with a regard for academic rules and principles, and applied the same prescription to all paintings whatever the nature of the theme. He was extremely successful as a colourist. His favorite subjects were gypsies, migrants and landscapes. He was also a very fine portrait painter



A Painting of Süleyman Seyyit Bey

A Painting of Süleyman Seyyit Bey

Süleyman Seyyit Bey was born in Istanbul. He studied languages at the Mekteb-i Osmani, and while a student at the War Academy he was taught art by Şirans Efendi and Kes Efendi. After finishing the War Academy he was sent to Paris, where Alexandre Cabanel helped to develop his talent for painstaking and meticulous workmanship. As a matter of fact his obsession with realism and accuracy earned him the nickname of metrologiste.

    On his return to Turkey he was appointed assistant to Osman Nun Pasha, teacher of art in the War Academy, where he taught art for many years. He was particularly well known for his still-life paintings. He died in 1913. A very few of his paintings are to be found in the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture, but most of them were sold off after his death as part of his estate and found their way into various private collections. Many of these suffered deterioration as a result of lack of attention, while others were completely ruined by unskilled attempts at repair or restoration. (See Zahir GüvemIi Solmayan Tazelik, Hafta Dergisi, No. 9-1956).

    Süleyman Seyyit Bey was a typical Turkish painter of the second half of the nineteenth century, with his artistic work solidly based on firm foundations. He applied the paint very thinly and spread it well over the surface of the canvas, thus lending the colours a remarkable transparency and freshness. The form of his paintings was based on a very strict mathematical accuracy.

    Süleyman Seyyit Bey spent ten years traveling in France and Italy, and not only learned a great deal about painting but also acquired a perfect command of the languages of these countries. He did a number of other things besides his official duties. He was very disappointed at his failure to rise above the rank of albay (major), and as a result preferred to work as a teacher of French in a number of different schools. He also contributed articles to the newspapers. He wrote a very important work on perspective entitled “Fenn-i Menazir”, which was never published, illustrated by pictures thought to be the work of Süleyman Seyyit himself


SUMER, AYETULLAH (1905 -1979)

    A Painting of Ayetullah SümerAyatollah Sümer was born in Izmir and began painting at the age of twelve. After finishing Lycee he attended the School of Commerce in Marseille.

    He also became a student at the Marseille Academy of Fine Arts. On graduating in 1927 he returned to lzmir, where he immediately opened an exhibition of his works in the local Halkevi.

    In 1928 he was sent to Paris on a state bursary and worked on frescoes in the studio of F Baudouin, and it is interesting to note that his later oil paintings show obvious traces of fresco technique. He contributed to exhibitions in Paris and Versailles in 1932 and won a silver medal for his “Woman In Black”. In 1933 he returned to Turkey and was entrusted with the establishment of a fresco studio in the Academy of Fine Arts. He himself remained in charge of the studio for thirty-seven years until his retirement in 1971.

    He contributed works to a large number of exhibitions both at home and abroad, and to all the exhibitions organized by the Fine Arts Association. He also formed a group of amateurs, which included his wife and daughter, known, after his own initials, as the AS Group. He devoted a great deal of his time to training and advising the members of this group.

YETİK, SAMI (1876-1945)

    A Painting of Sami YetikSami Yetik was one of the military artists. After finishing military school he was appointed teacher of art at the Baytar Rüştiye (Veterinary School), from which he at the same time attending the Academy of Fine Arts, graduated in 1906. In 1908 he went to Paris, where he spent two years at the Academy of Jean-Paul Laurens. Like the other Turks studying art in Paris he had to return to Turkey on the outbreak of the First World War.

    His pictures usually consist of large canvases on military themes painted in a highly academic style for each of which he first of all made innumerable studies and sketches. Few artists have ever produced such large-scale paintings on this type of theme. In his own view these pictures were given a national flavor by what are, in fact, purely provincial features.

    Sami Yetik was also a writer. In 1911 he sent regular contributions from Paris to the journal of the Society of Ottoman Painters (a monthly periodical), and he also produced the first volume of a rather confusedly composed work on military painters.


    A Painting of Zekai PashaHüseyin Zekai Pasha became interested in art at a very early age, but his formal art education was wholly confined to the lessons in drawing he received in the Military School. He never went abroad, and thus never had the opportunity of working in the studios of foreign artists. Books were his only source of information.

    The painting entitled “Night Illuminations on the Bosphorus” was presented by the principal of the school to Sultan Abdülhamit who, in order to encourage so talented a student, awarded him a commission in the army as one of his adjutants. The commission and the appointment in no way spoiled young Hüseyin Zekai’s natural modesty and good breeding. He was entrusted with a number of important duties. He acted as chairman of the Military Construction A Painting of Zekai PashaCommittee, he accompanied the German Emperor Wilhelm II on his Syrian tour as adviser on antiquities, and he was a member of the committee of the Esliha Müzesi (Military Museum) in Yildiz Saray under the chairmanship of Mahmut Şevket Pasha. In 1908 he retired from the service as commander of the First Reserve Division. During the First World War he was a member of the Ministry of Fine Arts Committee.

    Zekai Pasha‘s work was based on a very close observation of nature. He learned a great deal from the painter Hoca Riza Alt who was a very close friend of his. He used a variety of means to give an impression of depth, and every single brush stroke is obviously very carefully thought out.


ZONARO, FAUSTO (1854-1929)

    A Painting of Fausto ZonaroZonaro was one of several Italian painters who helped to develop the art of painting in Turkey. He was born in the country town of Masi in the province of Padua. After completing his primary and secondary education in his hometown he entered the Verona College of Fine Arts. After military service he attended the Faculty of Fine Arts in Rome. He held his first exhibition in 1885, and this met with such success that he held a second in 1888.

    He worked for two years in Venice and Naples as both artist and interior decorator, and it was during this period that the King of Italy presented him with the Order of Chivalry.

    He came to Istanbul in 1891 and settled down in what he termed “this earthly paradise”. Every day he would go out into the open air to paint landscapes or figurative compositions. His presentation to Yildiz Saray of a large-scale composition depicting the famous yacht Ertuğrul setting out on its voyage to Japan marked the first step on the path to rapid advancement Zonaro was awarded a medal, discarded his hat and took to wearing a fez. He specialized in colorful pictures of the Bosphorus.

    At the request of the Sultan, Zonaro also produced historical paintings such as “The Entry of the Conquerorinto Istanbul” and “The Victory of Preveze” He also painted various types of people and local costumes.

    The peaceful tenor of his life was broken by the Italian invasion of Tripoli in 1911. Popular indignation demanded retaliation, and it was decided that all Italians should be expelled from the country. Zonaro ‘s position as court painter and teacher of art to .Şehzade (Prince) Abdülmecid proved of. no avail in getting him exemption from this decree. Just as he was about to be promoted to the rank of Pasha he was suddenly reduced to the status of one of the many thousands of Italian refugees forced to leave Istanbul The collection of about three hundred paintings which he was forced to abandon in his studio were sold off for practically nothing.

    Zonaro settled in San Remo in Italy. He produced a number of paintings of the Bosphorus based on sketches he had made in Istanbul and won fame as the “Turkish painter”. In 1977, long after his death, some three hundred of his works were exhibited in Florence. About two hundred of these paintings were connected with Istanbul.








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This page is based on the Sabancı Collection of Paintings