Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kita Board by Mustafa Vasif

kita board by mustafa vasif, 17c

I planned to finish a series of articles because of Thanks Giving but when I saw this kita board by Mustafa Vasif among the files, I decided to post it right away. Dated 1791, it is one the finest examples, I think.

Dimensions: 15x22 cm.
Estimated value: $ 7,500

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ortakoy by François Prieur Bardin

Ortakoy by Francois Prieur Bardin
Old Istanbul paintings and pictures continue to amaze me. It is very hard for me to believe by looking at François Prieur Bardin's oil on canvas "Ortakoy" that this is the same place where I once had my breakfast almost every weekend. OK, the mosque is still there but next to and behind it there are now cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. Oh, and a beautiful bazaar where handcrafters display and sell their work on Sundays. Dated 1920.

Dimensions: 24x40.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 15,000

Ottoman Hand-worked Cushions

19c ottoman handworked cushions

Guest room, as opposed to living room, had an important place in Ottoman daily life. Special care was taken to decorate it, regardless of your financial status. Carpets, coffee cups, chairs, sofas were hand-picked. To your right are two hand-worked cushions of 19th century. They were probably made for export, though, as they are not typical cushions we used to see around here.

Dimensions: 40.5x44.5 and 49x44 cm.
Estimated value: $ 3,000

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bodrum by Walter Bourchier Devereux

engraving of Bodrum by Walter Bourchier Devereux

Those who have been to Bodrum in the 21st century will have a hard time believing their eyes, but this is what Bodrum looked like some 200 years ago. A fortress, a frigate or galeon or two, empty spaces, few faces.

Last time I was there, a policeman was standing at an intersection where vehicles were not allowed, trying to orchestrate pedestrians so that they would not walk on each other around 02:00 AM.

A beautiful engraving by Walter Bourchier Devereux.

Dimensions: 26.5 x 42 cm.
Estimated value: $ 700

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ferman of Sultan Mustafa IV

ferman of sultan Mustafa iv
Unlike his ferman, Sultan Mustafa IV's reign was not so beautiful. After a revolt which led to his predecessor's murder, he reached the throne on May 29, 1807, but practically Topal Ataullah Efendi, the religious leader of the time, was effectively controlling the government. When Ataullah's religious style proved too orthodox, the opposition planned a coup under the leadership of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha. Mustafa IV tried killing their own brothers to keep the throne, but Alemdar's forces saved Mahmud II, killing Mustafa and Ataullah; it was too late for Selim III, the other brother.

His ferman still shines though; clear, pastel colors, one of the best I have seen. Dated 1807.

Dimensions: 78x52.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 7,500

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

16th Century Iznik Plate

sixteenth century iznik nicea ceramic plate

China has always attracted people. Maybe it's because they are part of our everyday lives such that it is hard to finish a day without touching or using one. What makes antique china and ceramics in general so valuable is not only their craftsmanship, but they also have two unique qualities:

1- They are not so durable; as time goes by, fewer of them remain.
2- The natural dyes used on them. Most of the time, the technique in achieving that color, and the plants that were used are not available any more.

Iznik (Nicea) is an area famous for its china and ceramic tiles and this 16th century plate survived countless careless owners.

Diameter: 31.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 25,000

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aznavur Zenne Pitcher and Bowl

silver Aznavur Zenne pitcher and bowl

Here comes a masterpiece, a silver Aznavur zenne pitcher and bowl with sultan's signature (tugra). These pieces originate from Aznavur Pasaji in Istanbul, where collectioners and artisan shops are located. Although the place looks small from outside, it is not. You can spend the entire day there if you like antiques and collectibles. I can not give a date because either I did not take note of it then, or it was not available; can't remember. My guess is 19th century.

Weight: 1,660 g
Height: 39 cm.
Radius: 30 cm.
Estimated value: $ 30,000

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Palace Girl by Fritz Hummel

palace girl by Fritz Hummel

Among all female portraits of Ottoman era made by various artists, The Palace Girl by Fritz Hummel ((1828-1905) is probably my favorite. If I were Philip Scott Johnson, I would no doubt include her in the 500 Years of Female Portraits video. Clarity, attention to detail, facial expression of the model, her dress, the jewelry box, everything gets an A from me. Dated 1857, oil on canvas.

Dimensions: 77.5x63 cm.
Estimated value: $ 7,500

Monday, November 10, 2008

Calligraphy: Tools of the Trade

scissors and makta used in calligraphy

You may wonder what kind of tools are used in Ottoman calligraphy. To your right is a picture of scissors and a section marker called makta.

Scissors is in the form a pelican and both have plant motifs, inlaid with gold. Their length are 16 and 13.5 cm. respectively. The edge of makta is open-worked.

19th century
Estimated value: $ 5,000

18th Century Tombac Censer

ottoman tombac censer 18c
Censers have always been a favorite object of temples, no religion excepted. Burning incense in them is part of various ceremonies. In addition to religious rituals, incense and censers are widely used during meditation or, how can we say, similar mental exercises.

Now, I am not saying instead of using a 1 dollar wooden piece you should use this Ottoman tombac censer of 18th century. With leave figures at the base and baklava motifs at the lid (repousse technique), it is destined to take you to a spiritual voyage, especially after you see the price tag.

Height: 25.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 30,000

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pyramids by Yervant Chimchidian

pyramids by Yervant Chimchidian
I have uploaded Yervant Chimchidian's (1903-1975) Pyramids not because of its historical or commercial value, but because I thought it would look cool against the dark background of the site. I really heard these words and I'm sure you must have had, too.

I do not know why, but Yervant's oil on canvas moves me. Not that it is melancholic; on the contrary, whenever I feel like that, it swiftly takes me out of it. Oh, it does look cool against a dark background, by the way. :-)

Dimensions: 24.5x35.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 750

1936 Black Dodge

1936 model black Dodge

As I mentioned in Old Taximeters, Istanbul was a gold mine as far as old American cars are concerned. Many were actively used until the end of 70's. Pictured is a 1936 model Dodge, imported for the Belgian managing director of IETT (Istanbul Public Transport Company) in 1937.
From Mehmet Rado's collection.



Chasis nr.: 0259711TS
Engine nr.: 97648
Licence nr.: 34 AE 019
Estimated value: $ 18,500

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rococo Board by Ismail Hakki Mektubi

rococo board by Ismail Hakki Mektubi
Another fine example of Ottoman calligraphy, a signed (with ketebe) board by Ismail Hakki Mektubi (?-?). It praises all the sultans of the empire, starting from Osman (Othman), the founder, to Abdulaziz. Written with a talik style, the board is ornamented with (tezhip) gold and plant motifs of various colors, shining with the glamor of rococo days. It can illuminate any dark lit room; add a mirror or two and enjoy your cognac. Am I being sentimental or what?

Dimensions: 36x26 cm.
Estimated value: $ 4,500

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sultan Suleiman Era, Turkish Miniatures 2

miniature of husrev and shirin
In the East, during war and later peace with Iran, lead to continuous relations and has been one of the essential sources for influence and inspiration for Ottoman painters. Numerous eastern works and books were duplicated, reprinted, translated and illustrated. The accounting books of the time (Ehl-i Hiref books) show Iranians were the majority among palace artists. The miniature of Firdawsi of Bursa in his Suleimanname is a good example of the period.

Sultan Suleiman (The Magnificent) period is an important mark in the history of miniature. Regular recording of important historical events, wars, campaigns, celebrations, innovations, in and out going ambassadors etc started, and illustration of such books became customary. The palace officially started to employ writers and artists, and profession of sehname writing emerged. We can count Hamse of Nevai (TPM, H. 802), Divan of Nevai (TPM, R. 804), Tuhfet-el Ahrar among (TPM, R. 914) the most significant of these works.

sultan suleiman miniatureBut, perhaps the most important work of the period is, without a doubt, Suleimanname of Arifi. It tells the Hungarian Siege of 1543, the conquest of Nice and the sea campaigns.

In the spring of 1543, Ottoman naval forces set sail under the command of Barbaros Hayreddin, to aid François I of France. Barbaros or Barbarossa, reached Marseille after calling a number of Italian ports and joined the French armada. The joint forces took back Nice which was occupied by the Duke of Savois, an ally of Karl V at the time. Then the fleet went to Toulon to pass the winter. Along the way Barbarossa also freed Turgut Reis, who was a prisoner in Genoa, by threatening the burn down the entire city if he was not released.

Suleimanname describes all the events, ports called, the fleet, the important characters in detail.
Another important work of the time is Tarih-i Sultan Bayezid (TPM, R. 1272)which describes and depicts the sea campaigns of the time. The physical details of the places, geography, vessels, sea wars were vividly shown in the miniatures.

miniature showing an ottoman campaignTypically, these works are a continuation of a style first used by Matrakci Nasuh (see also How to (correctly) interpret Ottoman Calligraphy) in his masterpiece Beyan-i Menazil-i Sefer-i Irakeyn (IUL, T. 5964). Matrakci, or the Joker, describes the places visited during the Iraqi campaign of Sultan Suleiman. His miniatures are figureless, like a topographic scenery with all the details given. Towns like Eskisehir, Diyarbakir and Tabriz are like topographic paintings with the all the important buildings. But maybe the most important of them all is the miniature of Istanbul, which is the oldest picture of the city that we know.

TPM: Topkapi Palace Museum
IUL: Library of Istanbul University
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Will the Ten Tribes Return?

book cover of preparation for the return of ten tribes

According to G.S. Faber, Master of Sherburn Hospital and Prebendary of Salisbury, they no doubt will, as he wrote this book, "The Predicted Downfall of the Turkish Power, the Preparation for the Return of the Ten Tribes", printed by Thomas Bosworth, 215 Regent Street, London (second edition).

For the uninitiated a quick summary may be helpful: The Ten Tribes were exiled during the First Temple Era - over 2,000 years ago, and have been separated from the rest of Jewry ever since. But ultimately, they will be redeemed, and join the rest of Jewry - at the time of Moshiach [moshiach.com].

I have almost no information about the subject, and certainly I am not a good point of reference as far as Biblical and Torah studies are concerned, but it looks like intriguing. Faber's book can be of value to those interested and/or collectors.

Dated 1853.
Estimated value: $ 275

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

L'Illustration Magazine of 1909

illustration magazine of 1909

Constitutional monarchy did not come easily. Sultans were usually against it, so were religious sects. Soldiers had to walk in the city (a rare event) to restore order, and L'Illustration, a popular magazine of the time, covered it in 1909. Its faith was doomed, though. Within five years the Ottoman Empire would engage in World War I, siding with the Germans; and ten years later, occupation forces would be patrolling in Istanbul.

I must add that if someone asked what I liked most in military parades, I would definitely say the cavalry. Irreplaceable!

Estimated value: $ 60

Monday, November 3, 2008

In the Sultan's Palace by David Nason

score sheet cover of in the sultans palace by David Nason

When it comes to score sheets, there was and probably still is one place in Turkey: Yuksek Kaldirim. In this steep road connecting Karakoy to Tunnel Beyoglu, reside the poor lit, dim stores to satisfy your hunger for music. Countless weekends of mine were spent inside them, searching, seeking the pieces we wanted to perform later.

David Nason's "In the Sultan's Palace" from Bernard Wagness Piano Series reminded me of those days. The publisher and/or distributor information reads as follows: Oliver Ditson Company, Theodore Presser Co. Distributors, 1712 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Estimated value: $ 40

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Pearl of Istanbul

pearl of Istanbul

What could it be? For those who read the previous post Female Portraits in Western Art, the answer would be obvious. No ueber or super power has yet managed to stop an artist from seeing the beauty in human body.

Dated approximately 1880, Druck u. Verlag von A. Felgner in Berlin presents: Die Perle von Constantinopel, the Pearl of Istanbul, with all the elegance and grace she has to offer. The corner decorations and stars were applied to the engraving later.

Estimated value: $ 150