The Ottomans inherited the art of miniature painting from the Seljuks. During the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror), well-known artists were brought to Istanbul and they created the first important Ottoman miniatures. Bayezid the Second took a step further and set up workshops in the palace for these artists. The art of miniature painting reached its peak in the 16th century. Famous miniaturists, for example, Matrakçı Nasuh, Nigari, and Osman were trained during this period. In the 17th century, miniature paintings continued to be produced by famous artists as Nakkaş Hasan and Nakşi. During this century, the influence of European art began to be witnessed in miniatures. In the Gazneli Mahmut period (1685), large still-life and landscape paintings were seen. At the beginning of the 18th century, that is during the Tulip Period, this influence became even more evident. Wall paintings were used as architectural decoration instead of tiles. The Fruit Room of Ahmet the Second in Topkapı Place, is adorned with fruit and floral paintings.

The use of flowers, mosques and landscapes as architectural decoration can also be seen in the art created in Anatolia and in the Balkans.

Abdülmecit Efendi
Şeker Ahmet Ali Paşa

Turkish painting with a western concept was taught in the Mühendishane-i Berr-i Hümayun (The Imperial Naval Engineering School) which opened in 1795 during the reign of Selim III. Painting courses were offered and the first painters were trained in this school. At the beginning of the 19th century, Mahmut the Second had his portrait painted and hung on the walls of governmental offices. Painting courses were included in the curricula of this institution in 1827 and also in the Military Academy which opened in 1834. Some students were even sent to Europe for advanced studies in painting. The School for Civil Servants which opened in 1868 and the Darüşşafaka Preparatory School which opened in 1872 included painting courses in their curricula.

Many Ottoman painters of the 19th century were trained in civilian and military schools, including Beşiktaşlı Tevfik, Giritli Hüseyin, Karagümrüklü Hüseyin, Darüşşafakalı Hüseyin, Mirliva Osman Nuri, Servili Ahmet Emin, Kaymakam Ahmet Şekür, Üsküdarlı Osman and Bedri Kulları.

The first artists sent to England and France for advanced studies were Feri İbrahim Pasha (1815-1889), Ferik Tevfik Pasha (1819-1866) and Hüsnü Yusuf Bey (1817-1861), who were followed by Şeker Ahmet Ali Pasha (1841-1907), Süleyman Seyyit (1842-1913), and H. Zekai Pasha (1860-1906) in the year 1861. 

Halil Paşa Hayri Çizel  

Mekteb-i Sultani (The School of the Sultan) was founded in Paris for Turkish painters who were sent to France in the 1860's during the Tanzimat (Reformist) Period. This school functioned until 1874. Süleyman Seyyit and Ahmet Ali Pasha were the most outstanding of all the artists trained in the workshops of Gérome, Boulanger and Cabanel.

During the reign of Sultan Abdülmecit and Abdülaziz, foreign painters lived on Ottoman territory and produced engravings and paintings. The French painter Guillement who came to İstanbul in 1874 opened a painting workshop. Painters like M. Civanyan and S. Diranyan were trained in this workshop.

The first painting exhibition was held in İstanbul on February 20, 1863. Sultan Abdülaziz removed another taboo when he had a statue of himself mounted on a horse sculpted by Fuller in 1871.

At the beginning of 1882, Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) was entrusted with the task of having a Higher School of Fine Arts established during the Constitutional Period which began during the reign of Abdülhamit the Second in 1876. Osman Hamdi Bey studied painting in Paris, and he had this school built on March 3, 1883. Later Turkish painters and sculptors studied art in this school. The artists Ömer Adil (1868-1924), Osman Asaf (1869-1935), Tekezade Sait (1870-?), Mehmet Muazzez Özduygu (1871-1950), İsmail Hakku Altunbezer (1871-1910) and Şevket Dal (1876-1944) were amongst the first graduates of this school.

Bedri Kulları  

During the reign of Abdülhamit the Second, three officials who studied art at the Naval Academy, Mülazım-ı Ressam İhsan, Naval Officer İsmail Hakkı (1863-1939) and Diyarbakırlı Tahsin acquired a reputation for their naval scenes. Üsküdarlı Cevat Göktengiz (Cevat Göktengiz from Üsküdar) (1871-1939), Sadık Göktuna (1876-1951), Mehmet Ali Laga (1878-1947), Kaymakam Remzi (District Governor Remzi) (1864-1937) and M. Sami Yetik (1876-1945) who studied art at the military academy also acquired a reputation. In addition, Halil Paşa (Halil Pasha) (1857-1939) and Hoca Ali Rıza (Hodja Ali Rıza) (1858-1930) pioneered the development of impressionist techniques. They were also students of the military academy.

"The Ottoman Painters' Association", the first organization set up for painters, was founded in 1908.The Association began publishing a periodical in 1910. In 1921 the name of the Association was changed to the "Turkish Painters' Association".

Bedri Rahmi Eyüpoğlu  

The first trend towards impressionism was observed in 1910 in the works of artists who graduated from the Higher School of Fine Arts, İbrahim Çallı (1882-1960), Hüseyin Avni Lifij (1886-1927), Namık İsmail Sebük (1890-1935), Nazmi Ziya Güran (1881-1937), Feyhaman Duran (1886-1970), A. Hikmet Onat (1882-1977) and M.

Ruhi Arel (1880-1931, who worked in the impressionist style, were given the opportunity to study in France, Germany and Italy. As a result of the outbreak of World War I, these painters returned home. They were known as the "Çallı Generation", the "1914 Generation" or "Turkish Impressionists", and they brought a new approach to Turkish painting. "The Galatasaray Exhibitions" which were held at the Galatasaray Lycee after 1914, played an important role in the recognition of the "Çallı Generation". "Galatasaray Exhibitions" continued to be held for a certain period of time during the Republican period. In 1914 the Higher School of Fine Arts For Girls was founded. The first female Turkish painters studied at this school. In 1925 it merged with the Higher School of Fine Arts. 

İbrahim Çallı Ali Efendi

In 1917 a painting studio was established by the Ministry of Defense in Şişli, İstanbul and the painters were asked to draw pictures which described heroism and bravery. M. Sami Yetik, M. Ali Laga, İbrahim Çallı, A. Hikmet Onat, Ali Sami Boyar (1880-1967), M. Ruhi Arel, Ali Cemal Benim (1881-1941) and other painters of the 1914 generation worked in this studio. 143 pictures which were produced in this studio were displayed in Vienna and Berlin.

In 1923, through the support of Ali Haydar, who was Governor of Istanbul, the first private painting course was opened in İstanbul under the name "The Independent Studio of Painting." M. Ruhi Arel, İbrahim Çallı, A. Hikmet Onat taught male and female students separately in this studio. During the same year, Şeref Akdik (1902-1972), Sami Özeren (1902-1964), Refik Epikman (1902-1974), Elif Naci (1898-1988), Mahmut Cuda (1904-1987), Muhittin Sebati (1902-1935), Ali Avni Çelebi (1904-1993), Zeki Kocamemi (1902-1959) and Cevat Dereli (1900-1989) who graduated from the Higher School of Fine Arts, established a new association named "New Association of Painting.

Turkish painting which was first influenced by the West in the 18th century and developed in the 19th and the 20th centuries, continued to develop in the Republican period by closely following the developments that took place in the world of painting.

The Higher School of Fine Arts was renamed the Academy of Fine Arts in 1928 and Mimar Sinan University in 1982. Turkish painters and sculptors were also trained in art institutes, fine arts faculties of universities, educational faculties, through courses opened by the Ministry of Culture and private painting studios. Moreover, many Turkish painters studied abroad. Today approximately 500 Turkish painters are working in this field and contribute to Turkish art in the international
arena by creating valuable works.

Darüşşafakalı Hüseyin

Edited by Mehmet Özel

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