A Digital Exhibition in Istanbul: Osman Hamdi Bey

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A digital exhibition in Istanbul has been organized by the Communications Directorate in memory of the versatile artist Osman Hamdi Bey. The artist, Osman Hamdi Bey, has an important place in Turkish art history. Marmara University, by the way, is presenting the exhibition at Sultanahmet Campus.

The dream of the exhibition became real within the scope of the 360 Culture and Art Project (Image Credit-TRT Haber)
The dream of the exhibition became real within the scope of the 360 Culture and Art Project (Image Credit-TRT Haber)

A Digital Exhibition is Happening in Istanbul

The dream of the exhibition became real within the scope of the “360 Culture and Art” project. The project aimed to exhibit artworks using digital effects and three-dimensional holograms. Furthermore, experts also used special projection technology in order to reflect a better vision of Osman Hamdi Bey’s works. So, visitors will able to bear witness to nearly 50 special works of the pioneer of contemporary Turkish painting.

A Digital Exhibition in Istanbul
A Digital Exhibition in Istanbul

“In the first hall, people will able to watch the life of Osman Hamdi Bey digitally. In the other halls, we will be able to see the digital reflection of nearly 50 of his works. The exhibition will provide an opportunity for all art lovers to revisit our historical and cultural heritage,” said Mesut Onat. He is, by the way, Istanbul Provincial director of Communications Directorate.

Who is Osman Hamdi Bey?

Osman Hamdi Bey is considered as the founder of museum studies in Turkey (Image Credit-tgb)
Osman Hamdi Bey is considered as the founder of museum studies in Turkey (Image Credit-tgb)

So, art history experts mostly consider Osman Hamdi Bey as the founder of museum studies in Turkey. On the other hand, Osman Hamdi Bey is mostly famous for his work “The Tortoise Trainer” in the world. Osman Hamdi Bey (Istanbul, 30 December 1842 – 24 February 1910) was an Ottoman administrator, intellectual, art expert, and also a prominent and pioneering painter. He was also an accomplished archaeologist. What’s more, experts mostly regarded him as the pioneer of the museum curator’s profession in Turkey. He was the founder of Istanbul Archaeology Museums and of Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts. Later on, its name turned into the Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi in Turkish. However, its current name today is the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.

The Journey of The Tortoise Trainer

Hamdi’s 1906 painting, The Tortoise Trainer, has held the record until 2019 for the most valuable Turkish painting. Then, they buy the painting 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 ultimately, Pera Museum purchased the painting. 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 complicated national identity.

The Tortoise Trainer is Osman Hamdi Bey's most famous piece of art alongside A Girl Reciting Qur'an
The Tortoise Trainer is Osman Hamdi Bey’s most famous piece of art alongside A Girl Reciting Qur’an

The painting expresses a sarcastic allusion to the painter’s own view of his style of work compared to those of his collaborators and apprentices. What’s more, it is also a reference to the historical fact of tortoises. Most of the time, people used to employ them for illuminating and decorative purposes. They used to do that 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. People may visit the art and it is currently on display at the Pera Museum in İstanbul. The foundation, by the way, established the museum. His Girl Reciting Qur’an (1880) broke the record by realizing US$7.8 million at a Bonhams auction in September 2019.

Pera Museum, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Pera Museum, Beyoğlu, Istanbul

When Can I Visit the Digital Exhibition in Istanbul?

With strict implementation of the new coronavirus measures, the exhibition is open to visitors free of charge between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. until Nov. 9.

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