22/05/21

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Osman Hamdi Bey | The Tortoise Trainer, 1906

The Tortoise Trainer Hamdi's 1906 painting, The Tortoise Trainer, has held the record until 2019 for the most valuable Turkish painting, after being sold for 5 million Turkish Liras (approx. US$3.5 million) in December 2004.
At the 2004 Artam Antik A.Ç. auction in Istanbul, the Pera Museum and the Turkish Modern Museum fought to acquire the painting, and was ultimately purchased by the Pera Museum.
The painting depicts Hamdi's likeness clad in antiquated clothing, training tortoises in a mosque.
This choice of subject matter leads many to see this painting as a commentary on Turkey's conflicted national identity.


The painting expresses a sarcastic innuendo on the painter's own view of his style of work compared to those of his collaborators and apprentices, and is also a reference to the historical fact of tortoises having been employed for illuminating and decorative purposes, by placing candles on the shell, in evening outings during the Tulip Era in the early 18th century.
The painting was acquired by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation and is currently on display at the Pera Museum in İstanbul, which was established by this foundation.

His Girl Reciting Qur'an (1880) broke the record by realizing US$7.8 million at a Bonhams auction in September 2019.

Osman Hamdi Bey | Girl Reciting Qur'an, 1880

Modern researchers have identified the animals portrayed are Testudo graeca ibera, a variety of the Spur-thighed tortoise.
A reproduction of the painting appeared on the cover of the Bibliotheca Herpetologica issue in which the paper about the identification was published.

Historian Edhem Eldem has identified the source of the painting as an engraving of a Korean circus entertainer printed in Le Tour du Monde (1869) which was a popular French travel magazine.
The meaning or any symbolic significance of the tortoises is still contested by scholars.


Osman Hamdi Bey (Istanbul, 30 December 1842 - 24 February 1910) was a prolific painter and author, whose work dealt with themes of archaeology, travel and folk customs in the Middle East.
Hamdi studied painting in Paris under Gustave Boulanger and Jean-Léon Gérôme, two prominent artists in the French Orientalist school.
Despite being trained by Gérôme and Boulanger, and his reproduction of European orientalist motifs, Hamdi's paintings present Ottoman subjects differently than his contemporaries' works, most notably giving them more active and intellectual roles.
Hamdi's status as an Ottoman intellectual causes many to see his use of orientalist motifs as subversive and critical of European orientalism.
During his lifetime, his artwork was displayed more frequently in Europe than in Turkey.
From 1880 on, he exhibited in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Munich and London, and started a Salon in Constantinople.
His works bear witness to a patient and conscientious method, and may be considered as documents of art history.

He was the first who dared break with the Turkish pictorial tradition.

Among his works are Prophet’s Tomb at Brussa, Miraculous Springs (Paris 1904), Reading the Coran 1890, Theologian (Patrimony of the Austrian Court).
These paintings can be found in private collections and in museums in Vienna, Paris, Liverpool, New York, Berlin and Constantinople (at the Palace of Dolma Bagdsche, at the home of Crown Prince Abdulmedjid).
His painting Reading the Coran has been exhibited at “XI Biennale Internationale Des Antiquaires” in Paris in 1982 and at the “Fine Art of the Netherlands” at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in November 1982.




Il dipinto di Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) del 1906, "L'addestratore di tartarughe", ha detenuto il record fino al 2019 per il dipinto turco di maggior valore, dopo essere stato venduto per 5 milioni di lire turche (circa 3,5 milioni di dollari) nel dicembre 2004.

Al 2004 Artam Antik A.Ç. all'asta ad Istanbul, il Museo di Pera ed il Museo moderno turco hanno combattuto per acquisire il dipinto, che alla fine è stato acquistato dal Museo di Pera. Il dipinto raffigura la somiglianza di Hamdi vestita con abiti antiquati, mentre addestra tartarughe in una moschea.
Questa scelta del soggetto porta molti a vedere questo dipinto come un commento sull'identità nazionale conflittuale della Turchia.
Il dipinto esprime un'insinuazione sarcastica sulla visione del pittore del suo stile di lavoro rispetto a quelli dei suoi collaboratori e apprendisti, ed è anche un riferimento al fatto storico che le tartarughe siano state impiegate per scopi illuminanti e decorativi, ponendo candele sul shell, nelle uscite serali durante l'era dei tulipani all'inizio del XVIII secolo.
Il dipinto è stato acquisito dalla Fondazione Suna e İnan Kıraç ed è attualmente esposto al Museo Pera di Istanbul, istituito da questa fondazione.

His "Girl Reciting Qur'an" (1880) ha battuto il record realizzando 7,8 milioni di dollari a un'asta Bonhams nel settembre 2019.

I ricercatori moderni hanno identificato gli animali ritratti sono Testudo graeca ibera, una varietà della tartaruga dalla coscia speronata.
Una riproduzione del dipinto è apparsa sulla copertina del numero della Bibliotheca Herpetologica in cui è stato pubblicato il documento sull'identificazione.
Lo storico Edhem Eldem ha identificato la fonte del dipinto come un'incisione di un intrattenitore circense coreano stampata in Le Tour du Monde (1869), una popolare rivista di viaggi francese.
Il significato o qualsiasi significato simbolico delle tartarughe è ancora contestato dagli studiosi.