Painting of a Man in Ottoman Costume
Seated on a divan, a man in Ottoman costume gazes into the distance while holding a çubuk (long-stemmed tobacco pipe) in one hand and prayer beads in the other. He wears a patterned robe over baggy trousers, a white sash fastened around his waist, and a long blue kaftan. A white turban adorned with a feather ornament covers his head. Hanging from the wall are several cases carrying weapons. Just visible are a pair of Ottoman pistols with characteristically rounded butts, while a kilij (Ottoman saber) hangs below.
As diplomatic exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and Europe strengthened throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, paintings such as this became increasingly in demand. When European ambassadors visited Constantinople they often sat for their portrait, on many occasions wearing Ottoman attire. This sparked an interest in Europe resulting in a local production of such paintings, based upon sketches and engravings, or scenes recreated in artists’ studios.
The placement of our sitter on a divan, holding a çubuk and prayer beads, is comparable to an 18th century painting by Antoine de Favray, ‘Portrait of Charles Gravier, Count of Vergennes and French Ambassador, in Turkish Attire’. Here the ambassador poses in a similar manner to our sitter with his arm on his left knee, his right arm resting on the divan, and head turned slightly to the right with a window behind him. The painting is housed in the Pera Museum, Istanbul, Accession Number PM_GAP_PC.042.