The skyline of Istanbul is one of the most recognisable in the world. However, the Ottoman artistic tradition tends to be less widely known. This course traces the most significant developments of Ottoman art and architecture from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. From the Green Mosque in the former Ottoman capital of Bursa, we will progress to Edirne and then on to that great prize: Istanbul. The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 was a major turning point, changing the way the Ottomans saw themselves and how they were regarded by others. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror initiated the city’s makeover, which transformed it into the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Our exploration of the art of the sultans will introduce us to patrons of the arts, such as Süleyman the Magnificent, the architect Sinan (often referred to as ‘the Michelangelo of the East’), and the most impressive sites of Istanbul, including the Topkapi Palace and the Süleymaniye Mosque. We will discover Ottoman carpets in the paintings of the National Gallery and explore the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum’s collections of textiles, Iznik ceramics and metalwork as well as coming face-to-face with Gentile Bellini’s portrait of Sultan Mehmed II.
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