jueves, febrero 22, 2007
OSMAN HAMDI BEY
Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) was a distinguished Turkish intellectual. As well as being a famous painter and a successful archeologist, he was recognized for his services as a museologist. All his life he was very creative and productive. He was the founder of the School of Fine Arts (Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi) as well as being the instigator behind the law of Conservation of Antiquities.
In brief he was an intellectual who looked forward to the future. His cultural and artistic activities and endeavours were to lead the society towards modernization.
Osman Hamdi's father, Ibrahim Edhem Bey was one of the first few Turkish students who were sent by the Ottoman State to be educated in Europe. He studied geology and returned to Turkey as a mining engineer. He had several appointments as ambassador, government minister and even served as Prime Minister. Western education and culture was introduced to Osman Hamdi at his family home.
Osman Hamdi Bey himself became one of the privileged persons who had the chance of an education in Europe during a period when very few people could even learn a foreign language at school. He lived in Paris for twelve years and achieved a perfect command of the French language. Initially he was sent to France to study law but his great talent and tendency towards the arts led him to dedicate himself to painting. He had the chance to study with masters like Jean-Léon and Boulanger. He returned to his country as an artist instead of as a member of the Bar Association.
On his return from Paris in 1869, he went to Baghdad to work with Midhat Paşa who was the newly appointed Governor of the province. This was Osman Hamdi Bey's first official appointment and lasted two years. When he returned to Istanbul in 1871, he was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Assistant Director of Protocol. In 1873 he participated at the Vienna exhibition as the commissioner of the Ottoman State. In 1877 he was assigned the Directorship of the Istanbul 6th Municipal Office in Beyoğlu district which lasted for one and a half year. That was his last official appointment after which he decided to devote his whole time to painting.
In 4 September 1881, Osman Hamdi Bey was appointed as the Director of the Archeological Museum. This was the turning point of his life and he began to work with great energy and enthusiasm. Although the museum had been established for the last thirty years it was very poor as far as material was concerned. In general the museum looked like an antique warehouse. Osman Hamdi Bey restored the museum, which was in a magnificent building, employed qualified staff and enriched its collection remarkably.
After a short while, being the museum Director he started leading some archeological excavations. The excavations in Sidon in 1887 brought to light the group of sarcophagi, including the Sarcophagus of Alexander, the Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women and the Lycian Sarcophagus, which are the chief exhibits of the Archaeology Museum of Istanbul. Furthermore his excavations of other famous archaeological places such as the Nemrut Mountain increased his reputation. As a result of his practical experiences archeology became Osman Hamdi Bey's second profession. In addition to the directorship of the museum, he accepted the offer of becoming the director of the School of Fine Arts. In this new post, he first reconstructed the building, set up his academic team and on 2 March 1883, the School of Fine Arts opened its doors for education on plastic arts and architecture.
Archeology and museology were new sciences and movements of western origin. Introduction of new trends and activities and their application in the 19th century Turkey were very important steps towards modernization.
In 1884 Osman Hamdi Bey helped to elaborate the legal framework for the preservation of historical, cultural and artistic legacy of Turkey, the first Law of Conservation of Antiquities. With the implementation of this law, which brought the general regulations for the security of archeological excavations and finds, the illegal trafficking of antiques from the country was forbidden and they were recognized as State Property.
Source: Osman Hamdi Bey-Müzeci ve Ressam, Prof. Mustafa Cezar, Türk Kültürüne Hizmet Vakfi
P.D. I tried to better the bitter original text in English, any mistake or lack of taste stemming therefrom is mine. A.E.