Monday, June 7, 2010

Image of the Week 2: the Court of the Ottoman Grand Vizier

Click to enlarge.

Today's image of the week depicts a formal audience between Ahmed III's powerful Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, and the  Vicomte d'Andrezel, the French Ambassador to the 'Sublime Porte' (as the Ottoman court was called in diplomatic circles.) The date is given as October, 1724. This puts the work squarely in the middle of the so-called 'Tulip Era' of the Ottoman Empire, a time of relative peace and prosperity, and one in which what John Brewer called the 'world of goods' opened up by global trade and consumer culture was beginning to transform Ottoman society. These changes are evident from the French fashions which dominate the painting, as well as the craze for exotic tulips which gives the period its evocative name.

The artist is Jean-Baptiste van Mour (1671-1737) a Flemish-French painter who became celebrated as a painter of the Ottoman court. His specialty was audience scenes such as the one above, but he was also allowed to paint the harem.

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