Osman Hamdi’s 'lost' masterpiece in auction

Osman Hamdi’s 'lost' masterpiece in auction

İhsan Yılmaz - Hürriyet
Osman Hamdi’s lost masterpiece in auction

Osman Hamdi Bey, one of the most important figures of Turkish painting.

A painting by Osman Hamdi Bey, one of the most important figures of Turkish painting, has been recently unrevealed. The piece titled “Cami Önü” dates back to 1882 and will be auctioned with an opening price of 10 million Turkish Liras, daily Hürriyet reported on April 28.

In the auction, which will be held on May 24 by Antik A.Ş. at the Shangri-La Hotel, the painting will be offered for sale as one of the most important works by Osman Hamdi Bey.

HDN His 132-year-old work “Cami Önü” is an oil painting on canvas. It was finished by the artist in 1882, the year when he founded Mekteb-i Sanayi-i Nefise-i Şahane, currently Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.

The painting has been so far kept in former Gebze Mayor Mustafa Zeki Bey’s collection. Now, for the first time, the painting will come to the auction hall and meet art lovers. It will be displayed at Antik A.Ş. between May 12 and 24.

16 human figures

Osman Hamdi Bey enriches his work “Cami Önü” with 16 human figures and displays the soul of daily life during the Ottoman period in an effective composition. After “The Tortoise Trainer,” the work is the most important known paintings by Osman Hamdi Bey.

Osman Hamdi Bey’s 1906 painting, “The Tortoise Trainer,” broke a record in Turkey when it sold for $3.5 million in December 2004. The painting expresses a sarcastic innuendo on Osman Hamdi Bey’s own view of his style of work compared to those of his collaborators and apprentices. The painting was acquired by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation and is currently on display at the Pera Museum in Istanbul.

His “Istanbul Hanımefendisi” (A Lady of Constantinople) was sold in London in 2008 and broke a record with 8 million liras ($6.5 million). In 2012 Sotheby’s announced that the artist’s “Kuran Okuyan Adam” (A Man reading the Quran) was sold for 3 million pounds and his “Vazo Yerleştiren Kız” (A Girl Arranging a Vase of Flowers) was sold by Antik A.Ş. in the same year for 3.2 million liras.

Speaking to Hürriyet about the painting, Professor Edhem Eldem said the painting depicts the gate of the Yeşil Mosque in Bursa and its front. “Just like in his similar works, Osman Hamdi Bey put stairs, which do not exist in reality, in front of the mosque and created a lively scene. Using Ottoman architecture, the painting features typical Ottoman characters such as veiled women with umbrellas and veils, men, merchants and beggars. It is one of the most important works by the artist and reflects his unique style,” he said.