Osman Hamdi Bey, who attracted the attention of popular culture with his painting The Tortoise Trainer, is one of the modern intellectuals of the Tanzimat period. In addition to being a very estimable painter, Osman Hamdi Bey, a pioneer in culture and art, has a multifaceted personality. Osman Hamdi embarks on a journey that will contribute to the vision of the fine arts of the whole country with his art education, which he started while studying law in Paris. This versatile intellectual, who fits multiple qualifications in his life journey, continues to live with the legacy he left behind. As an archaeologist, museum curator, and painter, we follow Osman Hamdi Bey’s footsteps.
When Osman Hamdi Bey’s contributions to Turkish cultural and artistic life as a painter are examined, the definition of orientalism comes to the fore. Unlike the Western painters of the period, who portrayed the East as a fairy tale land, the depiction of the East in Osman Hamdi Bey’s paintings reflects the truth. Furthermore, Osman Hamdi Bey’s attention to detail and finesse distinguish him from European orientalists. Trying to document the culture, life, and ethnography of the Ottoman Empire with his paintings, Osman Hamdi paints the truth with a detailed and meticulous study.
The charcoal works he drew while a student at the Maarif-i Adliye Mektebi was the beginning of Osman Hamdi Bey’s interest in painting. The famous painter, who left his law education and started to study at the Paris Fine Arts School, also attends the workshops of the essential representatives of the period. Osman Hamdi’s realistic paintings based on nature observation are based on his lessons in these workshops.
Osman Hamdi, who was the first person to deal with the subject of women in Turkish painting, and the first painter to portray women as equals to men in daily life, often includes Turkish architecture in his works. Although the clothes and movements of the figure he painted from time to time draw attention, the architectural details in the background prove the creativity of this outstanding artist.
Osman Hamdi Bey, who stayed in Europe for a long time, is assigned to Baghdad when he returns home. Osman Hamdi Bey, appointed as the Director of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, started his first archaeological studies here. Osman Hamdi, who painted Baghdad with the instruction of the Governor of Baghdad, also began his first archeology studies. These studies lead to the emergence of the idea to provide the foundation of modern archeology in the Ottoman Empire. And as a matter of fact, Osman Hamdi is accepted as the first Turkish archaeologist and ensures the enactment of an archaeological law. Osman Hamdi’s most crucial excavation is Sidon King Cemetery (Lebanon), which he carried out between 1887 and 1888. Osman Hamdi became the archaeologist who found the world-famous Alexander Sarcophagus as a result of this excavation.
Osman Hamdi Bey, who returned to Istanbul, II. He is brought to the Directorate of the Imperial Museum by order of Abdülhamit. Thus, a radical change in the field of fine arts and culture begins in the country. Today, the first Fine Arts School, whose name is Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Faculty, was established under the leadership of Osman Hamdi. Osman Hamdi Bey, who arranged the Asar-ı Atika Regulation and ensured its implementation in 1883, also prevented the smuggling of historical artifacts to the West. Osman Hamdi Bey also started the first scientific Turkish excavations during his term as museum director. He participates in holes at Mount Nemrut and Lagina (Muğla, Yatağan). Tralleis Antique City provides many archaeological types of research, including the Alacahöyük and Boğazköy excavations.
Osman Hamdi Bey wants to establish a museum to preserve archaeological artifacts. Because, after Hagia Irene, the number of works trying to be maintained in the Tiled Kiosk increases day by day. As a result of the arduous struggle he had with the bureaucracy of the period, he had today’s Istanbul Archeology Museum built. The museum, which was completed in three stages, was opened to visitors in 1907.
Osman Hamdi Bey, the pioneer of contemporary Turkish museology, passed away in 1910. However, Osman Hamdi Bey never stopped painting while trying to create a cultural and artistic heritage passed down from generation to generation.
Would you like to make a magical discovery of Istanbul by following the footsteps of Osman Hamdi Bey? If your answer is “yes,” you can start your journey from Beyoğlu. The iconic Pera Palace Hotel, the project of Vallaury, a close friend of Osman Hamdi and the architect of the Fine Arts School, is ready to welcome you. During your stay at the Pera Palace Hotel, you can visit the Osman Hamdi Bey Collection in Beyoğlu Pera Museum with its eye-catching architecture. Or, if you wish, you can relax with the delicacies of the unique Patisserie de Pera after the museum visit. It is also possible to explore Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Faculty, another work of Vallaury architecture, by reaching out to the Majlis-i Mebusan Street.