25 June Thursday

Portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror Returns to Istanbul

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) purchased an original portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror, one of the permanent collection of paintings of the National Gallery. Mr. Mehmet Alkanalka, the Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM), represented the IMM at the auction held in London's world-famous auction house, Christie's, on Thursday. The painting, which was bought for 770,000 pounds, returns to Istanbul after many years.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) purchased one of the three surviving portraits of Mehmed II, better known as Mehmed the Conqueror, who was also famous for his interest in the Renaissance period and one of the most influential and intellectual sultans of the Ottoman Empire. The IMM thereby cherishes the memory of this great leader who made his mark on Turkish history.

The painting is one of the three surviving portraits of Mehmed II. The others are part of the London National Gallery’s permanent collection. Mehmed the Conqueror, known for his interest in the Renaissance period.

The portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror, the most influential sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was made by Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480. The painting is the only portrait of Mehmed II with another person near him. It was one of the most notable pieces at the auction. The painting, which was bought for 770,000 pounds, returns to Istanbul after many years.

Sara Plumbly, head of the Islamic and Indian Art Department at Christie's, said the portrait is one of the most important pieces in the collection that will open the auction hall since it was closed two months ago due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The portrait, according to Christie’s, is the product of the workshop of Gentile Bellini of Venice, circa 1429-1507. It is an oil on panel portrait and is 33.4cm in height and 45.4 cm in width. It is the last one to remain in private hands, says Christie’s.

The date Nov. 25, 1480, is written in Latin in the lower right corner of the painting of Mehmed the Conqueror, It is considered one of the most important works by Venetian painter Bellini, who stayed in Istanbul until 1481.

“This painting is one of the three portraits of Sultan Mehmed, who conquered Istanbul, which was made in his own time or near that period. They are owned by private collectors and have survived to the present day. This is a particularly unusual portrait. We see another figure next to the sultan. We still do not know who this person is. This person is said to be one of his three sons, but the little age gap between the two does not quite confirm this theory. Another view is that this person could be European because of his shaven face and white complexion," Sara Plumbly, head of the Islamic and Indian Art Department at Christie's said.

Mehmed the Conqueror, known for his interest in the Renaissance period, invited Italian painter Gentile Bellini (1429-1507) to Istanbul in 1479 and asked him to paint portraits of various people in the palace to be sure of Bellini's talent before allowing him to paint his portrait.



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