The Turtle Tamer of Istanbul

A graphic novel that recounts the life of the extraordinary intellectual Osman Hamdi Bey, painter, politician, archeologist and founder of the most important cultural institutions of 20th century Turkey. In this story, Hamdi meets the Palestinian born, Colombia University professor Edward Said (1935-2003), founding figure of Post-colonialism who is best known for his analysis of the cultural representations that are the bases of Orientalism, a term he redefined to mean the framework of how the West perceives and represents the East.

Their imaginary dialogue is both exhilarating and enlightening, shedding light on an East-West conflict in these times of much debated cultural and political identity. Book Trailer

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Tamo , Via Rondinelli 2 , 48121 Ravenna
Foundation Ravenna Antica

October 11 November 3, 2013

Who is Osman Hamdi Bey ?

Osman Hamdi Bey (1842 – 24 February 1910) was an Ottoman administrator, intellectual, art expert and also a prominent and pioneering painter. He was also an accomplished archaeologist, and is considered as the pioneer of the museum curator's profession in Turkey. He was the founder of Istanbul Archaeology Museums and of İstanbul Academy of Fine Arts (Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi in Turkish), known today as the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.

Osman Hamdi Bey was the son of İbrahim Edhem Pasha, an Ottoman Grand Vizier (in office 1877–1878, replacing Midhat Pasha) who was originally a Greek boy from the Ottoman island of Sakız (Chios) orphaned at a very young age following the 1821 Greek uprising there. He was adopted by Kaptan-i Derya Hüsrev Pasha and eventually rose to the ranks of the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire.

Osman Hamdi Bey went to primary school in the popular Istanbul quarter of Beşiktaş; after which he studied Law, first in Istanbul (1856) and then in Paris (1860). However, he decided to pursue his interest in painting instead, left the Law program, and trained under French orientalist painters Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Boulanger. During his nine-year stay in Paris, the international capital of fine arts in that period, he showed a keen interest for the artistic events of his day.

Osman Hamdi Bey with his daughter Nazlı. Osman Hamdi Bey Museum, Gebze.

His stay in Paris was also marked by the first ever visit by an Ottoman sultan to Western Europe, when Sultan Abdülaziz was invited to the Exposition Universelle (1867) by Emperor Napoleon III. He also met many of the Young Ottomans in Paris, and even though he was exposed to their liberal ideas, he did not participate in their political activities, being the son of an Ottoman pasha who was loyal to the sultan and did not challenge the old absolutist system. Osman Hamdi Bey also met his first wife Maria, a French woman, in Paris when he was a student. After receiving his father's blessings, she accompanied him to Istanbul (Constantinople) when he returned in 1869, where the two got married and had two daughters.

Once back in Turkey, he was sent to the Ottoman province of Baghdad as part of the administrative team of Midhat Pasha, who would later become an important reformer and the leading political figure among the Young Ottomans who enacted theFirst Ottoman Constitution in 1876. In 1871, Osman Hamdi Bey returned to Istanbul, as the vice-director of the Protocol Office of the Palace. During the 1870s, he worked on several assignments in the upper echelons of the Ottoman bureaucracy.

Osman Hamdi Bey exhibited three paintings at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. None seem to have survived today, but their titles were Repose of the Gypsies, Black Sea Soldier Lying in Wait, and Death of the Soldier. An important step in his career was his assignment as the director of the Imperial Museum (Müze-i Hümayun) in 1881. He used his position as museum director to develop the museum and rewrite the antiquities laws and to create nationally sponsored archaeological expeditions. In 1882, he instituted and became director of the Academy of Fine Arts, which provided Ottomans with training in aesthetics and artistic techniques without leaving the empire. In 1884, he oversaw the promulgation of a Regulation prohibiting historical artifacts from being smuggled abroad, a giant step in constituting a legal framework of preservation of the antiquities. Representatives or middlemen of 19th-century European Powers routinely smuggled artifacts with historical value from within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire (which then comprised the geographies of ancient Greek and Mesopotamian civilizations, among others), often resorting to shadily obtained licenses or bribes, to enrich museums in European capitals.

He conducted the first scientific based archaeological researches done by a Turkish team. His digs included sites as varied as the Commagene tomb-sanctuary inNemrut Dağı in southeastern Anatolia (a top tourist's venue in Turkey and a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, within the Adıyaman Province), the Hekatesanctuary in Lagina in southwestern Anatolia (also much visited, and within the Muğla Province today), and Sidon in Lebanon. The sarcophagi he discovered in Sidon (including the one known as the Alexander Sarcophagus, although this sarcophagus is thought to contain the remains of either Abdalonymus, King of Sidon; orMazaeus, a Persian noble who was also the governor of Babylon) are considered among the worldwide jewels of archaeological findings. To lodge these, he started building what is today the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in 1881. The museum officially opened in 1891 under his directorship.

Throughout his professional career as museum and academy director, Osman Hamdi continued to paint in the style of his teachers, Gérôme and Boulanger.

Book Trailer:

Graphic Novel (Book-Italy) / (eBook-Italy and English):

L'ammaestratore di Istanbul

di Elettra Stamboulis e Gianluca Costantini

Formato: 14,8 x 21, 190 pagine in bianco e nero, copertina colore, prezzo 15 euro

Per acquistare il libro: GIUDA edizioni

Ebook: Vanda ePublishing Italiano | English


Elettra Stamboulis (Bologna, 1969) lives and works in Ravenna, Italy. A founding member of Mirada, an association involved in the planning and curating of cultural events, including exhibitions by artists like Marjane Satrapi , Joe Sacco, Danijel Zezelj , and other major international graphic artists from Italy and abroad. She is also one of the organizers of “Komikazen” a yearly International Comic Festival held in Ravenna . She has also written the text of graphic novels, including: The slaughterhouse Workshop (Venice, 2009), Dinner with Gramsci (Padua, 2012). Her  articles have appeared in numerous magazines and catalogs, and she is the author of two collections of poems in a limited edition.

Gianluca Costantini is an illustrator who defines himself as a “graphic activist”. His political comics are much appreciated in Italy and have gained him respect in cultural circles. His latest graphic novels include:  Dinner with Gramsci, Julian Assange Wikileaks hacker ethics. Founder of the magazine inguineMAH!Gazine and artistic director of JUDAS Editions, he also works on the organizational committee of Komikazen Italy’s Comic Festival. Costantini contributes to International laLettura, World War 3 Illustrated, and Le Monde Diplomatique, and has exhibited in galleries and public spaces abroad including Lazarides Gallery in London and the Salon du Dessin Contemporain at the Louvre.