Portraits of Ottoman sultans found in attic up for sale

Portraits of Ottoman sultans found in attic up for sale

Portraits of Ottoman sultans found in attic up for sale

British auction house Sotheby’s is getting ready to put up a series of artworks featuring some portraits of Ottoman sultans and Amir Timur, which were found in the attic of a mansion in Scotland, for auction on Jan. 20.

The Ottoman sultan and Timur portraits of the auction series are based on the Giovio Series, which is a set of rulers and statespeople assembled by Paolo Giovio, a 16th century Italian Renaissance historian and biographer.

The original series has not survived intact, but copies made for Cosimo I de’ Medici between 1552 and 1568 are held at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence.

The paintings comprise portraits of Ottoman Sultans Suleiman I, Bayezid, Bayezid II, Murad II, Mehmed I and Timur, a Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in and around modern-day Iran and Central Asia.

The collection, which has reportedly not come to light for more than a hundred years, was discovered in a mansion belonging to the Marquess of Lothian, built in the late 18th century, near the Scottish town of Jedburgh.

These portraits were probably bought by William Kerr, the third Earl of Lothian, and were once hung in the Great Hall of Newbattle Abbey from the 17th to the early 20th centuries, according to a statement by the auction house.

“How these paintings reached Britain, or rather Scotland, is a mystery. The fact that they were found in an attic also makes the issue more mythical,” said Professor Esra Aliçavuşoğlu, a prominent art historian.

Ottoman historian Professor Feridun Emecen said that Britain had been collecting works of art from all over the world since the 18th century, so these paintings could have been purchased from Italy or France.

Nusret Polat, another art historian, noted that these portraits were bought by the British and taken to Scotland, adding that the first Ottoman portraits in history were made by the Italians during the reign of Mehmed II.

However, new works of this kind may continue to emerge in the coming years.

Auctioneer Turgay Denizler said that such works are frequently offered for sale in Europe, noting that a rare portrait of Hürrem Sultan, a chief consort and legal wife of Suleiman II, has been put up for sale recently.

The painting of Hürrem Sultan, known in the West as Roxelana, was sold at a London auction for 126,000 pounds ($173,000) on Oct. 27.

“The Ottoman Empire was one of the most famous states in the world in the 17th century. Every painter in that era must have wanted to paint an Ottoman portrait,” Denizler added.