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Portrait of an Ottoman Armenian Artist of Constantinople

Rereading Teotig’s Biography of Simon Hagopian
Portrait d’un artiste arménien ottoman de Constantinople : pour une relecture de Teotig et sa biographie de Simon Hagopian
Vazken Khatchig Davidian
p. 11-54

Résumés

Cet article propose une relecture critique des textes et images qui composent la biographie de l’artiste arménien de Constantinople Simon Hagopian (1857-1921) publiée en 1912 dans l’Almanach de Teotig (1873-1928). Il interroge ainsi la manière dont la méthode biographique est utilisée par les historiens de l’art et, parallèlement, le traitement de l’histoire de l’art ottoman dans des historiographies classiques qui accordent une place centrale à l’information biographique. La biographie « canonique » de l’artiste est ici confrontée aux documents de son temps et mise en perspective dans son contexte social et intellectuel. Sur le modèle de « l’exceptionnel normal » d’Edoardo Grendi, cette relecture critique de la biographie du peintre arménien projette finalement un éclairage sur les nombreux artistes ottomans exclus, ignorés ou incompris par des historiographies qui, en Turquie ou en Arménie, restent pour l’heure trop fréquemment préoccupées par la mise au jour des prémices d’un art national.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Note: Throughout this essay the artist is referred to as ‘Hagopian’, as per the Western Armenian tr (...)
  • 2 File accessed in July 2014. National Gallery of Armenia Archives, Yerevan, File Ֆ7, Թպ5.
  • 3 Teotig, 1912, p. 247-248.
  • 4 Porters: derived from the Arabic hamala, meaning ‘to carry’. H. Wehr, 1974, p. 206-207. Teotig uses (...)
  • 5 Further, no works by Hagopian are held at the National Gallery of Armenia Collection.

1A single undated, hand-written, sheet of paper in a brown envelope stored in a blue folder comprises the National Gallery of Armenia Archive’s entire holdings on the Ottoman Armenian artist Simon Hagopian1 (1857-1921)2. On one side, the unnamed scribbler has more or less copied – without being faithful to the original – the just over one page of biographical data (240 words) originally published in Teotig’s 1912 Everyone’s Almanac3. At the end, a note records that a painting entitled Turkish Hamals4 on the Bridge at Karaköy [see figure 1] was reproduced alongside the text in the original publication. A reproduction of the painting – a vital component of Teotig’s biography of the artist – is not held on file5. Also absent is a photographic portrait of Hagopian that accompanies the original 1912 text. This brief yet dense biography has become the primary source of information on this once respected, but now mostly forgotten, artist’s life and work. Published during Hagopian’s lifetime, it forms the source text and basis of all subsequent mentions of this artist, uncritically reproduced, often verbatim or with little amendment, by the handful of art historians and others who have either listed him or, on the rare occasion, considered his work and place in art history.

  • 6 Despite being one of the most popular genres of historical scholarship, biography has also been one (...)
  • 7 See for example S. Germaner and Z. İnankur, 1989 and 2008.
  • 8 See for example G. Renda 1987; A. Özsegin, 1996; A. Aghasyan et al, 2009; A. Aghasyan, 2009.

2This essay is an exercise that attempts to contend with two interconnected issues simultaneously. The first is the manner in which biography is used as a method in art historiography6, focusing specifically on the art history of the late Ottoman Empire. The absence, scarcity or frequent inaccessibility of source material (physical, linguistic, political, etc.) makes it urgent for the student of late Ottoman art history to engage with whatever fragments or clues that can be unearthed. Biographical titbits often offer the primary avenues and inroads through which any investigation of an artist’s output and experience and the way in which these are historically shaped by the social and intellectual trends of the times can be approached. The second is the need for the consideration of new approaches borne out of the unsatisfactory treatment of the Ottoman art historical past in canonical art historiographies. The study of late Ottoman visual art production is dominated by histories that either focus on visiting or resident Western artists, concentrated mainly around Constantinople, framed by debates on Orientalism7, or by the invented ‘national’ art histories of the successor national groups and states that inherit the fragmented Ottoman art historical space8. Emulating Eurocentric canonical art historiographic models that dominate world art history, the latter, sieve a complex past through the narrow prism of the nation state, where material is used selectively to project reductive, linear and teleological narratives, thereby articulating the idea of art as an evolutionary historical pageant staging the genealogies of an imagined patrimonial possession of nations and peoples, from antiquity inevitably to the modern nation. As with other inheritors of the fragmented space of the former Empire, this has become the dominant model in ‘orthodox’ or ‘officially sanctioned’ Turkish and Armenian art historiographies.

  • 9 For a lucid discussion see S. Loriga, 2014, p. 75-93.
  • 10 For a repudiation of the treatment of Osman Hamdi by art historians see E. Eldem 2012, p. 339-383.

3Biography is a central building block in the writing and production of these nationalist or nation-centric art histories. Most do not venture beyond a straightforward repetition of biographical data, sometimes (yet often not) accompanied by descriptive renditions of the discussed works of art, while avoiding the more important investigative, analytical or reflective functions of art history production. Here, much of the twentieth century discourse on the use of biography, such as reliability, tensions between structural historical models and human agency are absent9. As a result Thomas Carlyle’s proposition of history as the biographical study of great men still holds, conscripted however into the service of the ‘national’ project. It is unsurprising, therefore, that in Turkish and Armenian art historical constructions of the nineteenth century the genre of painting is dominated by the personalities of two individuals, Osman Hamdi (1842-1910) and Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) respectively10. Biographies are reduced to hagiographies where selected paintings are made to project the embodiment of the ‘spirit’ of the nation. In these histories, context, environment, an empirical base, historical specificity and precision become an irrelevance, while any contradictions and complexity are conveniently written or ironed out.

  • 11 See E. Eldem, 2009, p. 39.
  • 12 See for example Z. Çelik, 2002, p. 19-26.

4How does art historiography, that offers no space for hybridity and complex identity, treat artists such as Simon Hagopian, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ottoman Armenian artist of Constantinople? As a non-Western artist, his work, like that of most nineteenth century Ottoman painters, is dismissed by a Eurocentric canon that considers such work as merely derivative of a Western art tradition. Viewed through the historical prism of the Armenian genocide, his Ottoman identity sits uncomfortably within simplistic Armenian nationalist narratives that consider any interaction with an Ottoman context as negative. Equally his Armenian and non-Muslim identity complicates and challenges the project of ‘Turkification’ of the Ottoman art historical space which is appropriated for the Turkish nation11. Other, more recent postcolonial approaches advocating ‘speaking back’ to and disrupting a Western dominated canonical historiography have so far merely replaced one dominant gaze for another, the ‘national’12.

  • 13 W. Shaw, 2010, p. 188 (fn 17).
  • 14 See E. Turan, 1987; A. Özsegin, 1996; S. Bağci, 2010; S. Germaner, 2012.
  • 15 See for example B. Öztuncay, 2003, p. 11, 179 (fn 2), 219, 220-221 for his treatment of the Abdulla (...)
  • 16 E. Eldem, 2009, p. 39.
  • 17 Ibid. Unfortunately a virulent obsession with nation building persists in Turkey and the post-Sovie (...)
  • 18 W. Shaw, 2010, p. 188 (fn 17).

5Wendy Shaw explains the exclusion of most non-Muslim artists from Turkish art historiography as ‘an oversight’ due to the ‘emphasis of Turkish ethnicity during the republican period’13. That is an understatement: prejudice and chauvinism manifest themselves in ways that range from the subtle yet conscious erasure of all non-‘Turkish’ voices14 to unscholarly outbursts15. It is therefore quite right when Edhem Eldem forcefully writes that ‘Turkish historians should not be allowed [his italics] to write Ottoman history alone’ which he sees as reduced to a ‘glorified prelude to a unilinear and oversimplified narrative of the history of the Turkish nation’16. Eldem continues: ‘now that the obsession with nation building should be over and done with […] [w]hat needs to be done is for non-Turks to reclaim […] their part of the Ottoman past, however painful this may be’17. Shaw rightly points to Garo Kurkman’s 2004 compendium of Ottoman Armenian artists as partial rectification of this historiographic problem18. However, the introduction of the voices of other Ottoman artists, such as Greeks, Levantines, Jews etc., into the discourse is still lacking. This highlights the enormous amount of ground work that remains to be carried out before a sophisticated and empirically sound treatment of the late Ottoman art historical space can become possible. Art historians of the former Ottoman Empire can make a contribution to this process of catching up by utilising their particular skills to unearth and make available otherwise inaccessible source material in Ottoman Turkish, Western Armenian, Greek, Ladino, etc. While Armenians writing only about Armenians, Turks only about Turks, and Greeks only about Greeks is problematic, it is the framing that matters. By introducing source material in Western Armenian into the discourse, this essay considers itself part of a corrective drive that regards the information it provides as a complementary contribution to a more inclusive, open and honest history of the Ottoman art historical space.

  • 19 Term coined by microhistorian Edoardo Grendi. The citation is from S. Loriga, 2014, p. 90.

6In this text, therefore, Hagopian, becomes representative of artists that have been excluded from artificial art historical canonical narratives whose introduction muddies the quiet waters of these simplistic histories and exposes their inadequacies. Here, the artist is made to assume the role, to use Edoardo Grendi’s oxymoron, of ‘the normal exceptional’19, shining a torch onto, and speaking back to, all art historiographic structures from which he is excluded. Hagopian’s biography, one of dozens rendered by Teotig, offers the art historian, beyond the prospect of a fascinating glimpse into the world of the late Ottoman artist, an opportunity to reflect on the reliability of biography as genre, and, on the manner in which the information it has yielded has been used in art historiography. Importantly, the availability now of a representative cross section of the artist’s œuvre, makes this a good moment to reconsider, reevaluate and reflect upon Hagopian’s place in art history.

  • 20 I would like to thank Varvara Basmadjian for locating the original painting in a private home, and (...)
  • 21 S. Loriga, 2014, p. 90, 91.
  • 22 Ibid.

7This essay opens with a rereading of the image component of Teotig’s biography of Hagopian, the oil on canvas painting known as Hamals on the Bridge at Karaköy20. The second part subjects the textual component of the biography to a careful and critical rereading, complemented by contemporary printed material, or challenged for reliability. It awards much scrutiny to subtext, silences and gaps as perceived in the printed word. In the process, the essay aims to reconstruct, and reflect upon, the art-historical and social context within which Hagopian – as student, artist, art teacher, member of society, Ottoman, Armenian, modern man – operated and engaged with by extracting questions from the biography. Sabina Loriga explains that while an individual is saturated to the bone by his social experiences he can never be reduced to just one of them21. Hagopian, a hybrid, is accepted as a meeting point for different social experiences, and, where webs of relationships intersect with his social life conceptualised as a series of circles each intersecting with another, where the centre of one circle becomes the periphery of another22. The final part of the essay examines the subsequent historiographic treatment of Teotig’s biography of Hagopian, or absence thereof, by art historians.

  • 23 See C. Ginzburg, 2013, p. 87-113.
  • 24 See e.g. E. Said, 1994, p. 230-408; also G.C. Spivak, 1993, p. 66-111.
  • 25 C. Geertz, 1973, p. 5, 14.
  • 26 T.J. Clark, 1973, p. 9-20.

8This essay proposes an open and multidisciplinary approach to art historical investigation that utilises diverse methodologies and schools of thought. Therefore, microhistorical readings of clues and fragments23 are used alongside contributions from postcolonial and subaltern theory and writing in opening up avenues for the utilisation of biographical data through which the voice of the ‘other’, excluded and silenced by dominant historiographic canons, can ‘speak back’24. Similarly, anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s work on culture as a context, within which webs of significance spun by man himself can be intelligibly interpreted and thickly described in search of meaning25, is applied alongside social art historian T.J. Clark’s argument for historical specificity where dense images of artists in their specific milieu are woven26. Under such an overarching umbrella of methodological possibilities, biographical fragments can be made to work hard to yield valuable knowledge. It is hoped that an outcome of this exercise will also be the reconstruction of a more complete, nuanced and contextually sound profile, one that raises as many questions as it answers, of a complex and important artist than has been available to date.

Figure 1 Simon Hagopian Hamals on the Karaköy Bridge
Undated, Oil on canvas, 67 x 91.5 cm [private collection]

Rereading Teotig’s Biography of Simon Hagopian: The Image

  • 27Գարաքէօյի Կամուրջէն Անցնող Բեռնակիրները.
  • 28Թուրք Բեռնակիրներ Գարաքէօյի Կամուրջին Վրայ’.
  • 29 The painting is undated. After a thorough physical examination of the work, front and back, my opin (...)

9The selection of image published in Teotig’s biography, reproduced in grainy black and white and referred to in the text as Passing Hamals on the Karaköy Bridge27 and in the caption as Turkish Hamals on the Karaköy Bridge28, seems far from accidental29. The choice might have been Teotig’s, or equally plausibly, Hagopian’s. It would certainly not have been published without the artist’s consent. Its selection suggests both artist’s and editor’s belief that this painting was either representative of the artist’s work, or one of his most accomplished. The result of its reproduction in Teotig’s Almanac has ensured that this painting, over and above all others in the artist’s pre-1912 œuvre, has been preserved in print and referred to in all subsequent discussions of Hagopian as one his most important works, a work by which the artist is identified.

  • 30 T.J. Clark, 1973, p. 12.
  • 31 Id., p. 10.
  • 32 Id., p. 12-13.
  • 33 G. Weisberg, 1980, p. ix-xiv, 1-14.
  • 34 See J. Etmekjian, 1964, p. 214-238.

10It was this very image on a page from the 1912 Almanac that caught my eye and awakened my interest in Hagopian. In my mind, the work’s gritty, naturalist Realist credentials offered the entry point into the interrogation of the wider context within which work with such honest engagement with social themes could be produced by a non-Western artist working in a western mode of visual art production: oil on canvas painting. Any attempt at interpretation called upon a methodology that was intellectually rigorous. What was Hagopian’s aim here? Was it to present ‘life as it is (կեանքը ինչպէս որ է)’, the cry of all Realists? The social art historian T.J. Clark observes that the mediations between form and content ‘are themselves historically formed and altered; in the case of each artist, each work of art, they are historically specific’30. Extracting questions directly from the painting confronts the history present within, not merely a ‘background’ to the work of art and its production31. Paintings therefore are not ‘reflections’ of history or social relations, but are historically specific documents encapsulating a network of real, complex relations between how an encounter or experience becomes content and how that content becomes form32. While there is a tradition of visual and textual Realism in nineteenth century France and Europe33, Realism, in its Ottoman Armenian incarnation, has always been presented as a literary movement, the sole domain of novelists, essayists and journalists34. Did Hagopian’s hamal painting provide a counterpoint to this accepted truth?

  • 35 Luminaries of this movement included Arpiar Arpiarian (1852-1908), Krikor Zohrab (1861-1915), Dickr (...)
  • 36 J. Etmekjian, 1964, p. 220.
  • 37 Hayrenik, no. 71, 31 October 1891; Hayrenik, no. 632, 10 November 1893.

11By the last two decades of the nineteenth century Realism had become the dominant intellectual philosophy among Ottoman Armenian intellectual elites. This was certainly the case among intellectuals writing and publishing in a modernized and reformed Western Armenian vernacular assembled around the Constantinople dailies Arevelk [Orient], published from 1884, and Hayrenik [Fatherland], published from between 1891 to 189635. Echoing the literary historian Hagop Oshagan, James Etmekjian explains ‘that Armenian Realism was a well-organized movement directed by a handful of intellectuals who had definite goals and precise ideas on how to attain them’36. What, then, was Hagopian’s relationship with these intellectuals and writers? A reading of the treatment of Hagopian, for example, in Hayrenik in 1891 and 1893, discussed later in the essay, confirms that they were warm and that he was considered a member of the same intellectual milieu37.

  • 38 Պանդուխտ from the Greek πάνδοχος: see H. Adjaryan, 1979, vol. IV, p. 20.
  • 39 Muş.
  • 40 See, for example, D. Quataert, 1983, p. 97.
  • 41 Single men: Turkish.
  • 42 From the Arabic (han or khan) meaning inn, dwelling place or caravanserai. J.M. Cowan, 1976, p. 224
  • 43 D. Quataert, 1983, p. 97.
  • 44 Hrant, 1931; C. Clay, 1998, p. 1-32.
  • 45 Hrant, 1931, p. 21-157.
  • 46 J. Etmekjian, 1964, p. 218, 221.

12A central concern of these Realists was the condition of migrant workers from Ottoman Armenia, the bantoukhds38, present in the imperial capital, where many worked as hamals. Until the massacres of 1896 most hamals in Constantinople were Armenians, mainly from the plain of Moush39 and regions around Lake Van. For ages past they migrated to the city, actors in complex migration chains40. They tended to be bekiars41, often living in groups of co-villagers in hans42 in the poorest parts of the city spending a season or some years in Constantinople before returning home43. Frugal in their habits, they sent remittances back to their families44. Representations of these men dominated much of the literature of the time. The majority of the author Melkon Gurdjian’s (1859-1915) œuvre is identified with the chronicling of the life of the bantoukhd. Published between 1889 and 1892 under the nom de plume Hrant45, Etmekjian singles out his series of ‘letters’ on the life of provincial migrants, as providing an unparalleled authenticity to literary Realism46.

13What were Hagopian’s intentions while conceptualizing and executing this painting? In Hamals on the Bridge at Karaköy, having done away with conventions of classical academicism, Hagopian has depicted the hamals within a contemporary and familiar setting, one that he would have passed by countless times. He has placed four instantly identifiable bantoukhds, rural transplants into a modern urban space, upon a recognizable, Galata bridge. Their native village dress, at odds with the urban setting provides a reflection on centre and provincial periphery, modernization and tradition. Modernity, represented through the meticulously rendered ornate ironwork of bridge’s balustrade signifying the latest achievements of modern British engineering and the urban megalopolis, is underlined by the consciously photographic angle employed by the artist, who may have painted the work from a photograph. While the outline of the Galata Tower is suggested, the city, built up through a band of hazy brushstrokes that surrounds the hamals, presents an ambivalent space for them.

  • 47 While a discussion of the massacres is outside the scope of this essay, I will suffice with a quote (...)

14Although capturing a fleeting instant on the bridge, the painting’s impact on the viewer is undiluted and direct. Hagopian uses gesture as mode of narration to communicate the central figure’s unhappiness to his fellow porters and the viewer. A deft use of brushstroke and the capture and rendering of the minutest detail has been skillfully utilized to build up the physical and psychological profiles of those represented. The brushstrokes, therefore, recreate the glistening sweat on the brow of the central character and the red of his sun burnt neck. Paint captures the protruding silver blue veins of the man’s hands and the movement and questioning gestures of hand and open palm. The dirty rags, in places riddled with holes and crudely patched, each tell their distinct stories. Everything about and in the painting, from the more general to the most specific and minute, from the position of the four men on the bridge to the overall photographic framing of the image, and from the smudge of dust on the central hamal’s inner thumb to the woven detail on his thick, home-made socks is laden and imbued with meaning. Each raises its own distinct questions that can be expanded to lead the inquisitive mind into new and seemingly unexpected directions. Furthermore, the various titles given to the painting itself raise complex issues of identity. Who were these ‘Turkish’ hamals of Constantinople? Were they Armenians, or the Kurds brought to the capital during the massacres of 1896 to replace them?47

  • 48 Painting introduced to me with the title Mshetsi Hamal. Hagopian may have given it other names.

15The introduction of a second painting to the equation finds the Realist artist reflecting yet again on the world of the migrant worker. Here, Hagopian takes his technical virtuosity onto a different level to produce an intense, sympathetic study of a man, where character and psychological depth take centre stage. Portrait of a Hamal from Moush48 [see figure 2] skillfully captures the likeness of a dignified, attractive man, on the cusp of middle age. Taking a provincial migrant from the streets of Constantinople and rendering him in the utmost detail in paint, Hagopian has suggested that this humble man, of unknown identity, is as worthy of representation as any of his wealthy patrons. Brushstroke upon brushstroke he has built him up and elevated him onto the plane of the artist’s bourgeois or elite clients thereby blurring and challenging the hierarchies of class and station, of city and village, of centre and periphery. Unlike the fleeting moment represented in Hamals on the Bridge at Karaköy this is a focused study of a man, carefully observed and masterfully rendered. The details of his facial features, items of clothing and red fez have each received utmost care and consideration betraying empathy towards the character he has built up in paint. The neutrality of the white background space behind the man channels the focus of the viewer entirely and solely on the sitter himself.

Figure 2 Simon Hagopian Portrait of a Hamal from Moush
Undated, Oil on canvas, 33 x 40 cm [private collection]

  • 49 Մանուկ Աղբար, [Brother Manoog]: ‘Brother’ is a term of endearment. For Srabian see G. Kurkman, vol. (...)
  • 50 Key to pseudonyms: handwritten note by Aram Andonian, Pseudonyms in Hayrenik inside cover binding o (...)

16Hagopian’s portrait evokes a review of a painting by the Constantinople artist Bedros Srabian (1833-1898) entitled Manoug Aghpar49. The reviewer, the high priest of Western Armenian Realism, Arpiar Arpiarian, writing on 25 February in the daily Arevelk under the pseudonym Hraztan50 writes:

  • 51 Arevelk, no. 45, 25 February 1884.

[…] with a few friends we visited B[edros] Srabian’s home. He had just completed Manoug Aghpar. That slight face with its feelings of sadness, those faded eyes, skinny fingers, the rags, and I don’t know what noble wind was waving on his entire face, turned us all towards melancholy […] ‘What an odd thing’, [said] one of our friends, ‘were I to see him, the old man [on the street], I would certainly have passed him by without the slightest care, whereas by looking at that painting, his eyes, as if magnets, pull my glance towards them’ […] The talented painter, by pulling the old man’s grief-eroded (վշտամաշ) heart’s softest strings, has captured within his eyes the most psychological [հոգեբանական] moments [and] all the emotive storms [tormenting] his heart for seventy years.51

17Hagopian’s Mshetsi Hamal’s direct gaze and intense concentration also serve as an appeal to the viewer to stop and take a closer look at the man. Above all, however, alongside Hamals on the Bridge, it evokes the literary pen of Hrant. He too asks the Constantinople Armenian to really look at the bantoukhd in a language as highly descriptive and emotive as Hagopian’s brushstrokes. Employing a vernacular that is simple, direct yet intensely visual, ekfrastic, Hrant too describes the individual bantoukhd, paints the inner man, probing into the darkest little corners of his soul, revealing his innermost thoughts and sufferings. Intimately familiar with his subject, Hrant offers real characters described to the minutest detail. Resolutely committed to presenting the bantoukhd’s reality, he writes:

  • 52 Hrant, 1931, p 35.

I am not interested in art; only realities and truths will I put down onto paper, in their cold nakedness, with their blood-stained ribs and ulcers […] with a language that is rough and covered with rags that are ripped and torn.52

  • 53 I was shown the photograph of a second version, whereabouts unknown.

18There are other known Realist paintings by Hagopian, such as the 1889 version of Beggar Woman from Van53, and numerous texts, that can be introduced into this discussion but must be left out due to the brevity of space. But even the briefest discussion of the two hamal paintings is sufficient to raise the question of whether it is accidental that some of Hagopian’s most extraordinary works are comments on social themes of deep concern to the Realist intellectuals of the day. The ability to create paintings of such sensitivity, technical virtuosity and intellectual content reflect a whole new light on the non-Western artist and his milieu. Here the subaltern artist has used his paintbrush to give a voice to those other subalterns at the lowest levels of society.

  • 54 E. Eldem, 2001, p. 135-142.
  • 55 Ibid; also Z. Çelik, 1993.

19This discussion of one of Hagopian’s most important paintings, presents the artist as a Realist intellectual, an actor firmly situated within the pre-World War I Ottoman Armenian Realist milieu. However, as much as the represented hamals, the subject of the painting is equally Constantinople. In his essay “Istanbul: From Imperial to Peripheralized Capital”, Eldem employs the term “contact” in its widest sense to present a historical city that, he believes, could not be reduced to a single or ordinary function54. Ottoman Constantinople, itself the site of major transformation in the nineteenth century, is thus presented as an entry point, as point of contact, for goods, ideas and people, acting as interface in the realms of politics, culture, economics and power in all its forms. The city provided the fertile ground for the multitude of voices that sought to reform the Empire in the spheres of politics, economics and culture while serving is a gateway and meeting place of ideas and people55. It is in this environment that Ottoman intellectuals came face to face with new ideas and philosophies such as Realism; new forms and modes of artistic and intellectual output such as the short story, the chronicle and the novel, or oil on canvas painting and the photograph; and new spaces for the expression and projection of these ideas such as the newspaper page, the canvas or the photographic print. Finally it is this environment that brought Hagopian the urban artist face to face with the rural bantoukhd hamal. To explore this environment further we now turn to Teotig’s biographical text.

Rereading Teotig’s Biography of Simon Hagopian: The Text

  • 56 P. Bourdieu, 2000, p. 297-303; See also M. Grenfell, 2012, p. 11-12.

20This section of the essay considers Teotig’s published biographical text alongside contemporary printed material from the Western Armenian language Constantinople press, mostly reports and reviews published between the 1880s and 1912 or obituaries of the artist. While following the spirit of Teotig’s biographical structure, I am conscious that lives do not follow tidy pre-ordered and pre-ordained chronologies56.

  • 57 Samatya. At the time of Hagopian’s birth, this Armenian populated district on the Marmara shoreline (...)
  • 58 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.
  • 59 Ibid.
  • 60 School name added by G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.
  • 61 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.
  • 62 Upmarket district on the European side of Constantinople populated by Westerners and Ottoman non-Mu (...)
  • 63 Often referred to in contemporary texts by the French version of his name Telemaque.
  • 64 For Telemach Ekserdjian see G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 362-363.
  • 65 Teotig, 1912, p. 247. Street number provided by G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 362.
  • 66 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

21Teotig writes that Hagopian was born in the working class Armenian populated district of Samatia57 on the Marmara shoreline of the European part of Constantinople in February 185758. No reference is made to the artist’s parents or family except him being described as the son of severely impoverished parents (չքաւոր ծնողքի զաւակ)59. Hagopian received his elementary education at the Khorenian School60 in Narlikapu, followed by the Holy Sahagian School in Samatia61. As a nine year old child, in 1866, having demonstrated a great gift at drawing he was given permission by his art teacher, the prominent Pera62 artist Telemach Ekserdjian63 (1840-1894)64) to attend drawing classes with the most advanced students. Following a year of classes, the young Hagopian was allowed to make corrections to the works of more advanced students, for which he was paid. This would have been welcomed at home where art lessons might have been viewed as frivolous. After school he received private tuition from Ekserdjian at the artist’s atelier at 19 Feridiye Street in Pera65. The reverence for Ekserdjian is palpable throughout Teotig’s text where he is referred to as Hagopian’s master (վարպետ). In a society where deference and respect towards one’s elders were prescribed by very strict rules, non-adherence to which would cause offence, the term informs their relationship as that of master and apprentice (աշկերտ). By taking the boy under his wings, Ekserdjian, had proven central to Hagopian’s development as an artist, his influence further confirmed in the latter’s obituary in 1921 in Vertchin Lour [Latest News]66.

  • 67 T. Erol, 1987, p. 92. S. Germaner, 2012, p. 61.
  • 68 W. Shaw, 2011, p. 32, 36, 37. See also G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 16; Y. Martikyan, 1971, vol. I, (...)
  • 69 W. Shaw (2011) p. 32, 36, 37.

22Teotig’s text yields insights into the training of native artists in the Ottoman capital. While it confirms the existence of a formal art instruction system in schools at least by the 1860s, it informs on a parallel, informal, system of selection and conscription of talented pupils into apprenticeship by established artists. Turkish art history texts date the genesis of art education in the Empire to the Imperial School of Naval Engineering (Mühendishane-i Bahri-i Hümayun) in 1795 and by the early nineteenth century, claim that ‘the establishment of courses on naturalistic painting in military schools was at a time when no painting classes existed in civilian schools and society’s attitudes towards painting and painters was less than favourable’67. Highlighting the differences between artistic and technical drawing taught in these institutions, Wendy Shaw points out that while approved in 1795 artistic drawing and painting was only instructed at the School from 1847, decades after its establishment, whereas Ottoman non-Muslims had already began to adopt secular painting (separate from their long-existing traditions of religious painting) at least a century before68. Absent from Turkish historiography, who were these early Ottoman painters and how and where were they were educated and trained? 69

  • 70 Teotig, 1912, p. 241; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 362 (Sakayan’s name misspelled as Sakaryan).
  • 71 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. II, p. 726; Teotig, 1912, p. 241.
  • 72 M. Roberts, 2011, p. 130.
  • 73 W. Shaw, 2011, p. 57; S. Bağci et al, 2010, p. 305; A. Thalasso, 2008, p. 30.

23Challenging fabricated views of art history, Teotig’s biography provides more than an entry point into this quest for answers. While suggesting the existence of formal and informal art education systems operating simultaneously in Constantinople, it also reveals the existence of a genealogy and network of native artists operating commercially, or under different forms of patronage, meanwhile teaching in the capital’s school system while privately running their own apprenticeship schemes from their studios. Hence, some basic research demonstrates that Hagopian’s teacher, Ekserdjian, was himself taught by another respected Constantinople artist Apraham Sakayan (1821-1826)70, whereas Sakayan himself studied with court painter Hovhannes Umed Behzad (1809-1874)71. This was in parallel to foreign artists teaching native Ottomans, such as the British Mary Adelaide Walker and her Ottoman Armenian student Vergine Servichen, (another interesting entry point for exploration into women’s art education in the Empire, outside the scope of this essay)72. The existence of unregulated networks of apprenticeship in the workshops of native artists, some locally educated while others trained in Italy or France, opens a window into how local artists were trained long before the establishment of the first Academy of Drawing and Painting (Académie de dessin et de peinture) by the French artist Pierre Desiré Guillemet in Pera in 187473. A yet un-researched topic, biographical clues can produce much vital information that can be used to reconstruct the history of art education in the Ottoman capital and the provinces.

  • 74 Z. Çelik, 1993, p. 152.
  • 75 Ibid.
  • 76 Arevelk, no. 124, 31 May 1884.

24The founding of the Imperial Fine Arts School (Sanayi-i-Nefise Mekteb-i Alisi) in effect revolutionised the face of fine arts instruction (painting, sculpture and architecture) in the empire. Its establishment was an extension of the Tanzimat educational reform programme suggesting that the training of Ottoman artists and architects may have begun to be approached as a centrally organized government policy74. Set up by the administrator and artist Osman Hamdi (1842-1910) in 188175, the School began to accept students in 188376.

  • 77 Ekserdjian probably emigrated in 1883 or 1884. See Arevelk, no. 1841, 3 March 1890. The author writ (...)
  • 78 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.
  • 79 His two Armenian classmates, Arshag Fetvadjian and Vichen Arslanian, were nine years younger, as we (...)
  • 80 Teotig, 1912, p. 247. Kurkman translates the name of the painting as The Imperial Gallery at Eminon (...)

25Hagopian’s experience presents an interesting case as his art educational development and training, already advanced in Ekserdjian’s studio, coincided with the establishment of the School. Teotig reports that Hagopian enrolled at the Fine Arts School after Ekserdjian’s emigration to the United States77. Kurkman writes that Hagopian entered the school in 1884 and graduated in 188878. That makes him, at twenty-seven on enrolment, and thirty-one upon graduation, significantly older than his fellow students79. According to Teotig, Hagopian became one of the School’s earliest graduates in 1888 with his large-scale (մեծադիր) graduation piece, The Hunkiar Mahfili of the Yeni Cami (Եէնի Ճամիի «Հիւնքիար Մահվիլի»ն), being awarded first prize and later purchased by the French architect Alexandre Vallaury (1850-1921), a teacher at the School80.

  • 81 Enquiring about access to the Archives of Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul (successor to the Fine (...)
  • 82 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888. Fetvadjian, a native of Trebizonde (Trabzon) on the Black Sea, had (...)

26In the absence of diaries, letters or access to other primary source material, Hagopian’s years at the School are difficult to piece together81. There is however a rare, first-hand account by fellow student and friend Arshag Fetvadjian (1866-1947), that describes in some detail Hagopian’s financially desperate situation and the challenges encountered as a student. Without naming him, in an essay published in Arevelk on 27 May, Fetvadjian, writes82:

  • 83 Armenian abbreviation for Constantinople.
  • 84 Makriköy.
  • 85 Balat.
  • 86 Hasköy.
  • 87 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

In the Fine Arts School of Bolis83, I had for three years as friend [classmate] a talented young man. That young man, even before any hair had sprouted on his chin and face, had been forced to exhaustively take the care of all the members of his family upon his person. He came to study for three days out of the week, so that he could give lessons from Makrikiough84 to Balad85, from Khaskiough86 to Samatia, and heaving and breathless, making it by the skin of his teeth, ran and ran, exhausted and wasted, drenched in sweat, for eight years, and is still running.87

  • 88 Fetvadjian had only two Armenian classmates at the School. The other, Vichen Arslanian (1866-1942) (...)

27The student referred to in such emotional terms – a fellow Armenian – is beyond doubt Simon Hagopian88. Fetvadjian’s account confirms Teotig’s later depiction of Hagopian’s challenging family circumstances. While we have no means to establish Hagopian’s reaction to this article – possible humiliation by a thinly veiled reference to him, or perhaps faint hope that his struggles would come to the attention of a wider audience – it is beyond doubt that in a tight knit community (and even smaller intellectual community) those lines published on the pages of the most progressive and largest circulation Armenian language daily in the city would have come to his attention.

Figure 3 Photograph of staff and students of the Imperial Fine Art School [private collection]

  • 89 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.
  • 90 Photograph published in a number of titles including E. Edhem, 2010, p. 455; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. (...)

28Fetvadjian’s article betrays a certain intimacy between Hagopian and Fetvadjian. As yet, no correspondence or any other kind of documentation has come to light to indicate the closeness of their friendship. The only photographic image in which both appear was probably taken between 1885 and 1887 and depicts the teaching staff and student body of the Imperial Fine Arts School [see figure 3]. An identification of Hagopian in the image was only made possible because of Teotig’s inclusion of the artist’s photograph in his biography89. The teachers are seated while behind them, in two rows, stand the students. The latter have not been identified in the various publications of the image90. Standing in the centre of the second row, fifth from the left, right behind Osman Hamdi Bey, stands Hagopian, considerably older than the other students, posing with hand clearly visible resting proudly on his lower chest. An unidentified young man [perhaps Vichen Arslanian] has his left hand firmly placed upon Hagopian’s left shoulder. With his head leaning slightly towards Hagopian, fourth from the left, stands Fetvadjian. The men have very slightly turned towards each other, their body language indicating familiarity. While in itself no confirmation of intimacy, nevertheless, viewed alongside the article, their position in this group photograph may also suggest a camaraderie between the two men.

29The article highlights the major difficulties and sacrifices gifted Ottoman students with no financial backing would have had to endure in pursuit of their vocation. As confirmed by Fetvadjian, Hagopian had already began working as an art teacher before his enrolment at the Fine Art School, out of necessity for survival, perhaps already married and the father of a young family. For a man from Samatia returning to education at twenty-seven would have been seen as out of the ordinary, betraying tenacity, ambition and determination to succeed as an artist. Writing from the vantage point of a student already enjoying the backing of a wealthy benefactor financing his European studies, Fetvadjian laments the lack of support for Hagopian, and others by wealthy Armenians of Constantinople. He continues:

  • 91 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

Not a single kind-hearted wealthy individual was found in his neighbourhood (թաղ) to hold his hand and say: ‘Stop, boy, stop; it is enough how much you have exhausted and withered’.91

30Recalling his final conversation with Hagopian, Fetvadjian writes:

  • 92 Notables.
  • 93 No relation to Simon Hagopian.
  • 94 Fetvadjian uses the verb շինել, to construct.
  • 95 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

When [he came to see me] in order to wish me a safe journey when the time had come for me to go to Rome, he was directing desperate glances towards our great aghas92. I gave him one piece of advice; whether he acted on it I do not know: ‘The honourable benefactor Hagopian93, when constructing the Samatia church, would [at the same time] be certainly considering that alongside other decorations [for the church], a number of images would also be necessary to make the church complete. Go to him and propose to paint94 that church’s pictures and ask him, in lieu of your work, to send you for at least two years to Europe for the perfection of your art. You can also make this same proposal to the executive governing body of the [neighbourhood church, թաղական] committee’. It was a very emotional moment for me, I was unable to teach [propose] good ideas to my friend with whom we shared the same fate.95

  • 96 Teotig, 1912, p. 248.
  • 97 Teotig, 1922, p. 210.
  • 98 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.
  • 99 Ibid.
  • 100 Ibid.

31We do not know whether the two ever wrote to each other or met again. Also, judging from Teotig’s biography and Fetvadjian’s text, it seems unlikely that Hagopian received any support at that time. However, Teotig does confirm that Hagopian had executed many commissions for Armenian churches96. In his obituary for Hagopian in 1922, Teotig notes that these churches constituted the public spaces where Hagopian’s work could be seen97. This is also confirmed by an earlier obituary in Vertchin Lour published five days after the artist’s death98. The newspaper reports that his most famous religious image had been an oil painting of the Madonna commissioned by Mr Badrig Gulbenkian. According to the obituary, the patron having recently lost his wife, Vergine, had requested that Hagopian added to the depicted Virgin a certain resemblance to the deceased. ‘Truthfully’, the author continues, ‘Mr Hagopian has managed to render noticeable through the veil covering the Mother of the Lord’s face the grace of the lamented lady’s face and gaze’99. When the portrait was presented to the Religious Council for approval, the Patriarch Malachia Ormanian (1896-1908), upon examining the image closely, uttered that it was a portrait of Mrs Vergine. While admiring the painting’s artistic virtues, he observed that it was impossible to give a holy painting such a resemblance, asking the artist to make a ‘correction upon the face’100. Anecdote aside, such commissions would have provided Ottoman artists with economic benefit, visibility and prestige, and in this instance some notoriety.

Figure 4 Advertisement in Hayrenik, 9 April 1894

  • 101 Hayrenik, no. 779, 9 April 1894.
  • 102 Ibid. For a reproduction of a religious painting by Hagopian Thaddeus and Bartholomew, at St Krikor (...)

32The earliest record of Hagopian’s career as a painter of religious subjects is confirmed by an advertisement in Hayrenik on 9 April, addressed to the devout public of Samatia, who were invited to attend the installation and blessing of a religious painting by Hagopian at the Church of Saint Hagop101. The painting is described as a large scale Holy Resurrection, ‘the accomplishment of Simon Efendi Hagopian, gifted to the church by Mardig Efendi Nshasdadjian’ [see Figure 4]102. Therefore, six years after Fetvadjian’s exhortation, we have evidence that Hagopian, may have courted, and, certainly accepted commissions by wealthy Armenian patrons or church bodies. We can only speculate on what emotional significance having paintings displayed in churches in his native Samatia would have had for the artist.

  • 103 There are two brief reports on the Fine Arts School published in 1884 Arevelk, Nos. 124, 31 May 188 (...)
  • 104 Arevelk, no. 363, 18 March 1885.
  • 105 The newspaper appears to have done away with any report on the Fine Arts School in 1886. Based on r (...)
  • 106 Galip.
  • 107 Şevket may be different from Şevket Dag.
  • 108 Arslanian.
  • 109 Giovanni Della Tolla.
  • 110 Arevelk, no. 1112, 19 September 1887.
  • 111 The reference is certainly to the Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Camii in Istanbul. Teotig confirms the mosque (...)
  • 112 Arevelk, no. 1112, 19 September 1887.
  • 113 Ibid.
  • 114 Arevelk, no. 1117, 25 September 1887.

33Contemporary newspaper sources do not mention Hagopian as a student in the Fine Arts School in 1884103, 1885104 or 1886105. The first mention appears on 19 September, when Arevelk lists ‘Simon Efendi’ as one of six graduating students alongside ‘Ghalib106 Efendi, Şevket107 Bey, Fetvadjian Arshag Efendi, Vichen108 Efendi and Jivani Efendi109 [sic] in the category of painting’110. The report confirms that the assigned subject for the graduation painting was the depiction of various parts of the Şahid [sic, Շահիտ] Mehmet Paşa Mosque111 in oil on canvas112. This appears to be the same work included in Teotig’s list of Hagopian’s works, for which he writes he was awarded a prize. These paintings were to be displayed for exhibition after which, all six would be offered to the Sultan113. The awards were published in Arevelk on 25 September reporting that four students had achieved the first prize and two, including Hagopian, were awarded the second prize114.

  • 115 Arevelk, no. 1464, 18 November 1888.
  • 116 Ibid.
  • 117 Fetvadjian had left for Rome in August 1887. See L. Chookaszian, 2011, p. 21.
  • 118 Giovanni.
  • 119 Hagopian.
  • 120 Arevelk, no. 1464, 18 November 1888.

34Hagopian’s name reappears among the list of graduates in 1888. On 18 November, Arevelk reports that ‘the other day, this year’s examinations at Bolis Fine Arts school having been completed, produced the following result’ which is then published in the format of a list with no added comment115. In the list, the subjects are divided into five categories (architecture, sculpture, oil painting, drawing, and as well as a preparatory category)116. Hagopian’s name appears under the third category, oil painting (իւղաներկ), alongside four of his five classmates who had also appeared in the 1887 list117. The subject of the painting is not identified in the text, but must be The Hünkiar Mahfili of the Yeni Cami (Եէնի Ճամիի «Հիւնքիար Մահվիլի»ն), as reported by Teotig as being Hagopian’s graduation piece. In the list, two of the graduate students, Vichen and Ghalib Efendis are awarded first class prizes without entering the competition. An asterisk at the bottom of the page explains they were awarded the prize by exemption (‘Միւսազէգութ Խարճին-ով’). Of the rest, ‘Jean’118 Della Tolla was awarded the first-class prize whereas Simon119 and Şevket Efendis achieved a second-class award. Immediately following the list appears the announcement: ‘The abovementioned gentlemen are this year’s first (անդրանիկ) graduates120’. While the sentence is confusing it suggests that these were the Fine Arts School’s first ever graduates.

  • 121 R. Soulahian Kouyoumdjian, 2010, p. 11.
  • 122 Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

35What is clear, however, is that Hagopian had not been awarded a first prize in either year as claimed. Both Teotig’s and Fetvadjian’s texts confirm the dire economic situation of the artist in his childhood and adolescence. Fetvadjian’s text reports that Hagopian had began teaching even before enrolling at the Fine Arts School at some point in the 1870s. It would not be unfair to conjecture that the Ekserdjian connection would have assisted Hagopian in obtaining teaching positions in Armenian educational institutions in the city as well as entry into the Fine Arts School. Fetvadjian produces a vivid account of the sacrifices made by Hagopian to be able to study just three days a week, unable to devote himself entirely to his studies due to his teaching commitments. Did the inability to study full-time contribute to his being awarded second-class prizes in both 1887 and 1888 in contrast to most of his much younger and less experienced co-students? Teotig’s biography, erroneously claiming that Hagopian’s graduation piece was awarded first prize was published during the artist’s lifetime and with his knowledge, raises two important questions: reliability of biography and authorship. Who was the real author of the biography: Teotig or Hagopian? Teotig was known to have corresponded extensively with his contemporaries procuring their work and biographies, upon which he commented frequently121. In his 1922 obituary of the artist, Teotig writes that at the time of the publication of the biography, Hagopian had presented him with a print of one of his famous paintings The Beggar Dervish in the Yard of the Yeni Çami in Üsküdar122, which he reproduces alongside the obituary. Hagopian may have indeed handed Teotig his biography using the Almanac to ‘correct’ his academic record, embellishing it somewhat, hoping it would go unnoticed decades after the event in a publication accessible to Armenian readers only. The result has been that, all subsequent references to Hagopian have unquestioningly reproduced the information provided by Teotig’s biography as factual, repeating the untruth of his first prize.

  • 123 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 100; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.
  • 124 Hayrenik, no. 71, 31 October 1891; Hayrenik, no. 632, 10 November 1893.
  • 125 Kumkapı.
  • 126 See L. Nalbandian, 1967, p. 118-120.
  • 127 Hayrenik, no. 71, 31 October 1891.

36Teotig writes that following his graduation from the Fine Arts School, until the year of the ‘event’ (մինչեւ դէպքի տարին), which he doesn’t elaborate, Hagopian had maintained a workshop in Samatia, which he then moved to Pera to the top floor of the Apollon Photographic Studio. Martikyan and Kurkman accept Teotig’s ‘event’ as the 1895 massacres and present this as the date of Hagopian’s move from Samatia to Pera.123 However there are indications that Hagopian had certainly established his workshop in Pera by November 1893, perhaps even as early as October 1891124, which would suggest that the ‘event’ referred to was the Kumkapu125 Demonstration of July 1890126. An article in Hayrenik on 31 October confirms that Hagopian was already having his work exhibited in Pera127. Under the heading An Armenian Artist the anonymous author heaps praise on one of Hagopian’s works:

  • 128 Ibid.

These days, at the Phébus photography studio in Pera, for the viewing pleasure of the public, a large picture [պատկեր] has been exhibited that represents a place of worship, [and] where all the plentiful [grandeur] of eastern architecture has been laid out. The picture presents endless delicate relief sculptures [քանդակագործութիւններ], skilfully embellished [ճարտարահիւս] calligraphies, multi-hued and richly detailed natural rugs [or tapestries, օթոցներ]. The mysterious silence and unique whisper that dominates places of worship is noticeable [դիտելի] in the picture. The artist is Simon Efendi Hagopian, the humble but talented young man, whose progress fills all art lovers with joy.128

  • 129 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.
  • 130 S. Bağci et al, 2010, p. 281-283.
  • 131 This may however have been a relocation of the studio from Pangalti to Pera: B. Oztuncay, 2003, p.  (...)
  • 132 E. Ozendes, 1995, p. 210-213, p. 284-285.
  • 133Սեպուհ’.
  • 134 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

37This short, but important, piece in Hayrenik published three years after his graduation from the Fine Arts School, formally adopts the ‘humble’ (perhaps a reference to his Samatian origins) Hagopian as an ‘Armenian’ artist. The comments on the artist’s progress suggest he never left Constantinople ‘to perfect and accomplish’ his work as advised by Fetvadjian129. Yet, at thirty-four, Hagopian was not a young artist taking his initial steps. Crucially, however, it confirms Hagopian’s presence in Pera and establishes his rising profile as an artist suggesting a leap in social status, prestige and opportunities for commissions and added financial reward arising from visibility to a cosmopolitan well-heeled audience: a diverse Ottoman middle and upper class and resident and visiting foreign populations. The subject of the painting, probably the interior of a mosque, a standard in the stable of Orientalist images produced by foreign and native Ottoman artists (that also included panoramas of Constantinople, street scenes and an entire canon of exotic types with a history dating back to seventeenth century European costume books130), reveals the artist was taking note of the market and the commercial environment. Most importantly, the report highlights the important relationship between artist and photographic studio in late nineteenth century Constantinople. The Phébus Photography Studio owned by Boghos Tarkhulian, better known as Phébus Efendi, had opened its doors in 1889131. Aside from Phébus, the other important photographic studio associated with Hagopian throughout his life was the Studio Apollon, owned by the Ottoman Armenian Gulmez Brothers (Artin, Krikor and Yervant) later sold to the Ottoman Greek photographer Achilles Samantzis, known as Apollo Efendi132. Hagopian’s obituary in Vertchin Lour confirms that ‘he used his position as painter firstly at Apollon and Sebouh133 [Sebah?] photographic studios, by oil painting on [photographic] aggrandisements’134. For commercial artists the possibility of exhibition at photographic studios offered prestige and visibility. Hagopian’s association with these three important Constantinople photographic ateliers reveals a mutual economic and artistic interdependence between artist and studio. Studios served as exhibition spaces for artists while providing them with steady work as retouchers and financial security, while artists provided the studios with skill and an artistic eye. It is unsurprising, therefore, that Ottoman artists would cultivate good working relationships with photographic studios and maintain workshops near them.

38On 10 November, a second article discussing Hagopian appeared in Hayrenik under the heading A Painting Atelier. This piece provides a very rare physical description of the artist’s atelier while offering a sketch of Hagopian’s artistic temperament and personality. The author, A. Sh., reports:

  • 135 The reference is to the Pythia (Πυθιας), priestess of Apollo at Delphi who sat on a sacred three-le (...)
  • 136 Hayrenik, no. 632, 10 November 1893.

[…] Simon Efendi Hagopian, graduate of the Fine Arts School, has already opened a workshop in Pera, [that] I had the chance of visiting recently. It is a small room, half of which is consumed by the artist [sitting] before his tripod. In our century, these Pythiases do not sit on top of the tripod but before it135. The artist is present, ready to strike a final brushstroke to a small canvas, that final glow, expression, which is the life of the image. His face is illuminated by one of those truly happy smiles that usually appear on the faces of children.
Hagopian Efendi is a young artist, passionate lover of his art and enthusiastic admirer of the great masters, the printed images of whose works he keeps with him. He talks to me about his wishes and hopes. ‘I am thinking,’ he says, ‘to give colour to some of Sully Prudhomme’s plastic sonnets, for example Le rendezvous, which is a miraculous creation’.136

39What emerges is a profile of a passionate artist-intellectual, one among an entire generation of unnamed ‘fine, young artists’, that in the eyes of the reviewer links classical Greek inspiration, the great masters of the Western European art historical tradition and the contemporary Parnassian poets of France to Ottoman Constantinople of the 1890s. With irrepressible optimism and passion he continues:

  • 137 Ibid.

I am unaware whether in times before our own, we have ever had true artists, such like are not confused with craftspeople. However, in recent years an art-loving young generation is being formed. The Imperial Arts School has brought to the fore a large number of Armenian youth, who in their majority possess the understanding and fire of art, and for whose perfection, the only thing absent is [the possibility of] complementary training in large studios.137

  • 138 An Ottoman corruption of ‘alla franca’, a style, where western forms were copied for the use of res (...)
  • 139 This is an enormous area for discussion beyond the scope of this essay. For an overview of the impa (...)
  • 140 Another possible confirmation of Hagopian’s engagement with France and French culture appears in th (...)

40Marking the distinction between ‘craftsmen’ of the past and ‘artists’ of the present the reviewer praises the role of western-style educational institutions such as the Fine Arts School, a signifier of an ‘alafranga’ age138, for propelling a small renaissance in the arts. Without mentioning Paris, A. Sh. also echoes Fetvadjian’s call for the pursuit of ‘perfection’ of art in large studios, presumably in Europe. Read alongside Teotig’s biography, the subtext that emerges offers clues into contemporary understandings of aesthetics, arts and culture in an age of ‘Westernisation’139. In this environment it would have been unthinkable that an artist of Constantinople, would not have turned his gaze towards Europe, and specifically Paris140. Attitudes of artists drawing inspiration from printed images by European masters and contemporary French poetry is articulated in the opening lines of front page article published in Arevelk on 25 September under the heading The Fine Arts in France:

  • 141 Arevelk, no. 1709, 25 September 1889.

The French are a people in love with the fine arts. No other nation in Europe has more refined taste [ճաշակ] about the fine arts than the French, and rewards fine art practitioners more than the French.141

  • 142 R-F Sully Prudhomme, 2006, p. 63. It is unclear whether Hagopian would have read the poem in its or (...)
  • 143 Teotig, 1912, p. 248.

41In this environment, it is unsurprising that Hagopian would single out for rendering in paint a poem by a Parnassian poet (much translated into Armenian)142, or, Teotig would highlight the purchase of Hagopian’s award winning 1887 graduation painting by an unnamed French artist. In another surviving quote from the artist, published in Teotig’s biography, he jests that the conditions for success for Armenian artists in Constantinople are the sporting of ‘an unusual hat, a beard, a pipe and a changed, Europeanised, name’143. The note that a painting was purchased by a French artist or the achievement of a prize at a Marseilles exhibition as noted by Teotig may be read as validation and affirmation of his artistic credentials – despite having been unable to ‘perfect’ his art education in Europe like some of his contemporaries, a recurring theme in any treatment of Hagopian in the press. In an extensive review of a portrait of the revered educator Reteos Berberian (1848-1907) published in the daily Piouzantion [Byzantium] on 3 July, the art critic Dikran Tcheogourian (1885-1915), while declaring Hagopian a ‘master of the paintbrush’, proceeds to write:

  • 144 Piouzantion, no. 3579, 3 July 1908.

Simon Hagopian is not an unfamiliar artist among us. Often the preparation of religious paintings is entrusted to him, and as a portraitist he has some fame even among foreigners residing in Bolis. […] I have been somewhat indebted to him, as [former] student, [wanting] to devote a page to his work and present him among a sample of the modern Armenian artists of Istanbul, because despite never having seen the productions of the great centres of art, he has been able to master a certain high level in Fine Art. Whatever fault remains with the artist, is not purely the result of an absence of aesthetic instruction, but the want of development. I have seen many of Simon Hagopian’s portraits. I [have also seen] a couple of sizeable canvasses, and others which from a technical aspect did not lack perfection.144

  • 145 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

42Even when Tcheogourian praises the artist’s skill as a portraitist, a hesitant tone betrays a conviction that Hagopian would have benefitted from experiencing the ‘great centres of art production’. Yet, from this text and others, it becomes clear that Hagopian had by 1908 become best known for his portraiture. This is unsurprising as commissions for portraiture would have been the bread and butter of commercial Ottoman artists. He would also have received commissions for portraiture through his association with the photographic studios. Hagopian’s obituary in Vertchin Lour assesses the artist as having succeeded the most in his portraits many of which graced the salons of the well-known families of the city145. His skill as a great portraitist is apparent in the portrait of the Mshetsi Hamal discussed earlier in the essay.

  • 146 Teotig, 1912, p. 247. Teotig uses the word ‘իշխանազուն, term for princes or ‘those borne of prince (...)
  • 147 R. Berberian, 1899. Khatchig Tahtadjian was a well known Constantinople artist, teacher and calligr (...)
  • 148 B. Garabedian, 1933, p. 136.
  • 149 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.
  • 150 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111; Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.
  • 151 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921. Both Teotig and Kurkman erroneously report his death as 16 Ma (...)

43What looms large in Tcheogourian’s review, is the expression of fondness and a debt of gratitude owed to a former teacher. Teotig’s biography highlights Hagopian’s role as art teacher, with the artist said to have taught at ‘all the Armenian schools in the city, particularly the Berberian and Mezbourian’, while also giving ‘private lessons to amateurs of both sexes’ as well as the children of the Ottoman aristocracy146. A newspaper advertisement dated 17 June in Arevelk lists him as a member of the teaching faculty of the Berberian School in Uskudar alongside Kh[atchig] Tahtadjian (1847-1916)147 having joined in 1897148. His Vertchin Lour obituary notes that he had first worked as a teacher at the Yedikule Orphanage, followed by the Kalfayan Orphanage, and the Berberian, Getronagan and other, including non-Armenian, schools149. Kurkman adds that Hagopian also taught at the Yessayan from 1883 onwards, confirmed by the Vertchin Lour obituary that he had continued to teach there months before his death150. It is this role, as inspiring and conscientious teacher, ‘an honest cultivator seeking to awaken the artistic taste of the new generation’, rather than artist that appears to dominate the spirit of the front-page obituary five days after his death on 15 May from consumption in Constantinople151. The obituary ends with the words:

  • 152 Ibid.

With his passing, the Armenian teaching class has lost a force, an experienced and accomplished member, who leaves behind him a generation [and] innumerable students that respect him.152

44The tone is in startling contrast to Hagop Sirouni’s obituary of the artist. Writing in exile in Bucharest in 1924 he opines:

  • 153 H. Sirouni, 1924, p. 360-72.

Simon Hagopian, who under more permissive conditions, could have perhaps become a more noteworthy artist, eventually ended up as a mere art teacher, a humble retoucher of photographs. And the fact that we allow him space for remembrance here, is because he too, in his early phase, had moments of inspiration and, before enlarging photographs and teaching children how to hold pencils, produced some of his successful paintings.153

  • 154 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

45Sirouni’s grudging obituary, for the most part based on Teotig’s biography, offers a scathing verdict on Hagopian the artist (although a reading of the entire text leaves an ambivalent rather than damning impression). Overall it reflects the Vertchin Lour obituary’s assessment that despite ‘being the possessor of an extraordinary talent’ Hagopian nevertheless ‘was more of a master copier rather than an [artist of] inspiration154.

46How could the promise of the 1890s have been reduced to such decline in fortune, dismissal, or even contempt? The obituaries infer that Hagopian the artist was a figure of the past, belonging to a different artistic generation. Respected as a teacher, his artistic legacy lay neglected and forgotten. By 1921 he appears to have been seen as too conservative, academic and unfashionable, perhaps accused of being provincial, irresponsive to new developments taking place in the art world while newer generations of bolder and more experimental Ottoman artists, trained in Europe, appeared more relevant.

  • 155 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921. The author reports that during a moment of financial difficul (...)
  • 156 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.
  • 157 Painted posthumously from a photograph by Abdullah Frères in 1906. See F. Pouillon, 2012, p. 199-22 (...)
  • 158 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.
  • 159 Twenty-three in colour, two in black and white. G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 82, 111-124.
  • 160 I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 256-283.

47However, an overview of Hagopian’s surviving and accessible work confirms him as an artist of considerable merit and versatility, albeit very much rooted in a late nineteenth century tradition of painting. Until the publication of Kurkman’s compendium, Teotig’s listing of fourteen paintings was the only source available to art historians. A mere glance at the list reveals a staggering diversity of subjects tackled by the artist. These encompass academic landscapes and urbanscapes (A view of an Old Turkish Street; Seyyid Mehmet Pasha Mosque’s Three and a Half Centuries Old Medresseh, The Selamlik of Sultan Aziz in Ortaköy, the latter singled out as the artist’s most important painting155), portraiture (Portrait of the Artist’s Father), official portraiture (‘Portrait of the current Sultan’ [Mehmed V]), street-types (A Poor Muslim, A Poor Beggar from Van, Porters Crossing the Karaköy Bridge), official history and war painting (Six scenes from the victories of Ghazi Ahmed Muhtar Paşa)156. The names of a handful other titles (mainly portraits such as those of Reteos Berberian, the Gulbenkian ‘Madonna’, Mahmud Şevket Paşa or of Algerian national hero Abd el-Kader157, but also works such as The Fire of Galata158) can be gleaned from the contemporary press but whose whereabouts are for the most part currently unknown. It is to Kurkman that we owe the availability of the largest body of works by Hagopian, twenty-five paintings in total159. Finally, the Askeri Müze Resim Koleksiyonu Catalogue reproduces a further fourteen, what must be the largest public collection of Hagopian’s work160. Many paintings are unknown, held in private collections inaccessible to art historians, yet often appearing on the pages of auction catalogues.

48These titles provide a window for art historians to assess the manner in which native Ottoman commercial artists engaged with their cultural, economic and political environment. In a competitive art market such as Ottoman Constantinople, and in competition with photography, adhering to the rules of the market was a necessity for the commercial artist. This could mean the production of portraiture, or such representations of an ‘exotic’ and timeless Orient and its inhabitants that would appeal to visitors and locals, souvenirs or decorative canvases for the ‘alafranga’ home. The bewildering array of the subject matter of Hagopian’s œuvre reveals the flexibility with which the artist tailored his work to target market demand, but may also explain the variation in the quality of work produced. Indeed, a glance at Hagopian’s accessible work often raises doubt on the possibility of all having emanated from the brush of a single artist. In what may be a reference to Hagopian’s work for photographic studios, or perhaps mechanical production of substandard canvases, Teotig wonders:

  • 161 Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

Anyway, which Turkish Armenian artist has been appreciated as deserved and achieved a respectable lifestyle to his end? Many were forced from time to time to be unfaithful to their calling by [producing] mechanical works, merely to survive.161

49Teotig’s biography of Hagopian, provides much vital information on the artist and his work, which when considered within the cultural environment of late Ottoman Constantinople enriches our understanding of art production in the city. Yet, read in parallel with contemporary material it also introduces new contradictions, beyond complications of authorship and reliability. For example, while bestowing a first prize on a graduation painting that was never awarded, it fails to mention other, probably more prestigious, accomplishments. In Tcheogourian’s words:

  • 162 Piouzantion, no. 3579, 3 July 1908.

[Hagopian] has been appreciated and awarded a medal of honour by the previous Persian Shah. In 1894 [sic] he was awarded a medal from the Chicago Fair for his several exhibited works.162

  • 163 So far I have been unable to find any information on either prize. There is no listing for ‘Turkey’ (...)
  • 164 Teotig, 1912, p. 248.
  • 165 See for example S. Sinanlar Uslu, 2010, p. 9-79.
  • 166 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.

50The absence of this information from Teotig’s biography (and therefore any subsequent account on Hagopian) is an inexplicable oversight163. Why would an artist craving to enhance his own biography, omit to acknowledge such important markers of recognition? Furthermore, Teotig notes that Hagopian had taken part ‘in all’ of Constantinople’s art exhibitions with the latest at ‘Societa Italia’164. Yet his name appears to be absent from lists of artists in any of the major art exhibitions in Constantinople165. Kurkman mentions an exhibition at Angelidis, a shop in Pera in 1896166. Future research will undoubtedly provide some answers to these questions.

  • 167 Piouzantion, No 3575, 28 June 1908.
  • 168 Ottoman imperial cipher or calligraphic monogram, seal or signature of an Ottoman sovereign affixed (...)

51In closing this section, two texts offer a fascinating and harmonious glimpse of Hagopian as painter and teacher. The first is a report on the event of Berberian School’s thirty-second Annual Graduation and Bestowing of Diplomas Ceremony, published on 28 June 1908 in Piouzantion offers a fascinating glimpse of Hagopian as teacher and artist. It discusses an exhibition, certainly organised by the art teacher, Hagopian, in the hall adjacent to where the ceremony was taking place, of the oil paintings and drawings prepared by his students. After assessing them as ‘generally successful and appreciable [գնահատելի] works’ the author proceeds to list the names of the nine most successful students who had ‘by the reproduction of their brushes demonstrated artistic early talents [կանխահաս ձիրքեր]’167. Later in the report, the closing words [Յուսք Բանք] and keynote speech by Onnig Berberian are reproduced in full. Standing by the monumental [մեծադիր] portrait of the recently deceased school’s founder and head master Reteos Berberian, executed by Hagopian, placed on the stage just below the Imperial tuğra168 and surrounded by Ottoman flags and wreaths of laurel, Onnig Berberian, had this to say about Hagopian:

  • 169 Piouzantion, No 3575, 28 June 1908.

Finally, with special gratitude I refer the school’s drawing teacher, Simon Efendi Hagopian, who with his inspired brush has given to the face of the Educator a death defying, eternal expression, and thus having provided a service, a responsibility taken on with a heartfelt [sincerity] that will leave among us and all those who will at present and in the future [have] the desire to gaze at the Educator [and see into his] fearless [հուժկու] yet simultaneously gentle and sweet soul [մեղմանոյշ հոգին]. Simon Efendi’s painting will satisfy the viewer’s heart, as much as [it has] the author’s, providing [a just satisfaction and] repayment [վարձատրութիւն] for the painter.169

Figure 5 Death Notice in Vertchin Lour, 16 May 1921

  • 170 Vertchin Lour, No 2177, 16 May 1921.

52The second is provided by Simon Hagopian’s death notice in Vertchin Lour, published the day after his passing [see Figure 5]. Immediately below his name the word ‘ՆԿԱՐԻՉ’ [PAINTER] appears bracketed in bold capital letters, followed by ‘Teacher of drawing at national [Armenian] and foreign [non-Armenian] schools’170. Here dual identities appear in hegemonic order in print. Was it a conscious decision by his widow or family to compose the word painter in bold capitals? Or was it merely a question of design settled by a typesetter?

Teotig’s Biography of Simon Hagopian and Art Historiography

53The final part of the essay examines Hagopian’s position in art historiography. From the outset it was established that his presence in art history is limited. Yet, it is Teotig’s biography of the artist that has ensured this, albeit slight, presence. Kurkman’s listing of Hagopian, itself heavily reliant on Teotig’s text, has since 2004, provided some visibility for a forgotten artist.

  • 171 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 4.
  • 172 Ibid.
  • 173 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 100.
  • 174 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 3.

54The only Armenian art historian to have engaged with Simon Hagopian in any depth before the publication of Kurkman’s compendium is the Soviet Armenian Yeghishe Martikyan in the second volume of his History of Armenian Fine Arts published in 1975. Hagopian is a surprising choice for Martikyan who acknowledges unfamiliarity with the artist’s work and lack of material sources. This highlights the problem faced by Soviet art historians of the unavailability of material on Ottoman Armenian artists. Martikyan nevertheless provides a profile of Hagopian (among others) through his ‘few known works and concise discussion’171 expressing the hope that in the future more works would be discovered to complement his172. Devoting two and a half pages, the largest ever art historical treatment of the artist to date, the discussion consists almost entirely of a reproduction of Teotig’s text. Based on the text and by examining Teotig’s list of the artist’s paintings173, Martikyan concludes that the ‘multi-genre’ artist’s œuvre, ‘by [both] content and artistic style is historically attached to the Armenian art of the second half of the nineteenth century’174.

  • 175 Martikyan presents five artists – four Russian Armenians and one Ottoman Armenian – in his category (...)
  • 176 Ibid.

55Martikyan makes Teotig’s reproduction of Hamals on the Bridge at Karaköy, the axis of his treatment of the artist. Classifying him as an artist of ‘historical-genre painting’175, Martikyan claims that Hagopian was one of the ‘known and appreciated artists of his time, in [both] Constantinople and abroad’176. He continues:

  • 177 Ibid.

By judging [his work] with the reproduced painting in Everyone’s Almanac, which is called Turkish Porters on the Karaköy Bridge, it is possible to say that Hagopian is an artist [who] has received fundamental education, [is] academically trained, with the solid conviction of the realist, [and possesses a] confident hand. Already the content of that painting is the confirmation of the artist’s preferred theme, [and] talks about his sympathy and empathy (կարեկցանք), irrespective of the free man’s national belonging.177

  • 178 Ibid, fig. 28. Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

56He follows the above with a description of the image, which is full of Orientalising clichés. Having only ever seen a small, grainy black and white print of the painting, the assessment, pro-proletarian credentials and ideologies ascribed to Hagopian are derived solely from the art historian’s own projections. Even more surprising is Martikyan’s failure to reproduce the painting he devotes so much space to, instead reproducing another work, taken from Teotig’s 1922 obituary of the artist, which is not even mentioned in the text178.

  • 179 Y. Martikyan, p. 102.

57While I agree that Hagopian’s œuvre belongs very much in spirit to the nineteenth century, I find Martikyan’s entire commentary, approach and method towards his subject problematic. While he nods at the artist’s Constantinople context, he is ambivalent towards Hagopian’s Ottoman environment. Without having seen a single painting in the flesh, Martikyan interprets the artist’s work and conscripts him into two ideological camps, simultaneously socialist in its Soviet incarnation and nationalist. Sloppily, he introduces errors to Teotig’s text: for example, ‘Feridiye’ is made to be a foreign painter whose workshop the young Hagopian attended when it was actually the street where Ekserdjian’s Studio was located. He is also inventive and takes unwarranted and unnecessary liberties with Teotig’s text: for example he claims that the teaching of princes and the children of the wealthy took a substantial toll on Hagopian’s time, and that Hagopian never felt himself to be a free artist179.

  • 180 Ibid, p. 101.

58Martikyan’s treatment of Hagopian is characterised by contradictions: while the artist’s designation as ‘historic-genre’ painter is neither explained or justified, a large part of the text is devoted to portraiture, reproducing a segment of Tcheogourian’s review of the Berberian portrait (claiming however the absence of the original)180. Worryingly Martikyan does not come clean about his use of source material: he neglects to mention Teotig’s 1922 obituary among his sources but reproduces an image from it. He attempts to engage with the artist’s work, albeit superficially, yet he uses quotations selectively, stretches and invents facts to justify pre-ordained views and ideologies.

  • 181 A. Aghasyan, 2009, p. 9, 18, 52, 238 (fn 43), 249 (fn 90).
  • 182 H. Sirouni, 1924, p. 360-72.
  • 183 Id., p. 249 (fn 90). Hagopian’s oeuvre was briefly mentioned in a conference paper by Nermin Sinemo (...)
  • 184 Id., p18.
  • 185 Id., p. 238 (fn 43).
  • 186 Id., p. 52.

59The art historian Ararat Aghasyan from the Republic of Armenia also discusses Hagopian in his survey of nineteenth and twentieth century Armenian art181. Relegating the artist to a brief footnote he devotes half of it to the selective and partial reproduction of Sirouni’s earlier, dismissive quote on the artist182. In the remaining text, making limited use of Teotig’s biography, he lists the various genres with which the artist was known to have engaged with, emphasising portraiture 183. In another footnote he lists Hagopian among artists known to have used photography in their portraiture184. In the main text of his survey, Aghasyan lists Hagopian twice, as an educator185 and, as having contributed to the development of ‘national portraiture’186. Unlikely to have seen a single Hagopian painting except those reproduced by Kurkman, upon which he relies heavily, it is ironic that a larger part of the portraits on which he bases his claims depict Ottoman Muslims. What is then ‘Armenian’ about Hagopian’s portraiture? The obsession with establishing a unique ‘Armenianness’ of art, matched by an unwillingness to confront context or intellectual thought processes sheds no light on the art or the artist, and adds nothing to the discipline. Characteristically, Aghasyan offers no engagement with, or analysis of, any art historical material. He misrepresents Hagopian through Sirouni’s words by taking them out of context and making them the dominant voice in his brief note. With no interest in social environment and historical context, Aghasyan’s only concern is an artist’s assimilation into an artificial nationalist narrative.

  • 187 W. Shaw, 2011, p. 51, 56.
  • 188 I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 256-283.
  • 189 This is evident by his receipt of prestigious commissions for portraiture (not least his portrait w (...)
  • 190 I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 282-283.
  • 191 I thank Gizem Tongo at Oxford University for bringing this work to my attention. It features in her (...)

60Hagopian, until recently absent from Turkish art historiography, has also been mentioned by Shaw187 and discussed in the Askeri Müze Resim Koleksiyonu Catalogue188. Both use Kurkman as their source. The Catalogue sheds light into the connectedness of Hagopian to the highest levels of Ottoman society and power189. Some of the works reproduced, especially the war paintings, merit closer scholarly scrutiny. One painting in particular, dated 1917, depicts two Ottoman soldiers, one of them wounded, on a battlefield defending the fatherland190. This late work, now displayed at the Harbiye Military Museum, raises uncomfortable questions, not in the least how an Armenian artist during World War I could have executed a patriotic work imbued with such Turkish nationalist ideology191. In view of such work, Hagopian’s dismissal by Armenian nationalist commentators such as Sirouni, may appear under a different light. Would Sirouni have been aware of or seen Hagopian’s patriotic Ottoman war paintings? In the immediate aftermath of the Armenian genocide what effect would these have had on any judgment of the artist? In the absence of evidence we can but conjecture.

  • 192 For images of the two works see G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 82.

61Yet, while a discussion of these works is beyond our scope, they too point to the urgency of a more complex and nuanced historiographic treatment of the subject. Crucially, they demonstrate the necessity of an unravelling of the discourses that run through nationalist historiographies and claim selected works by artists by ideologically motivated actors. Complex artists, such as Hagopian, cannot be constrained into the straightjackets of nationalist art histories, subjugated into the strictures of ideological narratives, or written out of history and silenced. In my mind, the most extreme, yet disturbingly eloquent example of Hagopian’s erasure from art historiography is demonstrated by two of his known paintings where, perhaps forty years after the artist’s death, his signature was rubbed out and painted over by that of another, more collectible, artist192. The art market too had joined in to silence the artist.

*

62This essay examined the use of biography in art historiography through the careful and critical rereading of a 1912 biography of the artist Simon Hagopian. The treatment of a painting, reproduced in the original biography as inherent part of the biography, offered an entry point into a preliminary reflection on Hagopian’s œuvre and his engagement with his environment, and called for a reappraisal of his place in art history. The text of the biography was simultaneously challenged and complemented by the parallel consultation of available contemporary documents. Furthermore it highlighted problems in art historiography emerging from the uncritical copying of source texts and their manipulation for ideological purposes. This essay drew attention to the unsatisfactory and artificial nature of much of the historiography of the Ottoman art historical space, where biography forms an often abused central building block. Hagopian’s biography is but one of hundreds that is either erased from, or misrepresented in, art historiography.

63The essay also argued that the very real setback of scarcity of material sources, faced by too many art historians of the late Ottoman Empire, can be somehow manipulated to advantage through the creative use of methodologies which allow the inquisitive mind to set itself to work with any fragment or unexpected clue that is unearthed. Hence, biographical texts, such as Teotig’s biography of Hagopian can become much more than mere points for departure, collections of data and dates of limited use, something generally absent from Armenian and Turkish art historiographies. The exercise therefore of a critical rereading of Teotig’s biography of Hagopian constituted an attempt to extract information from the biography of one individual and to open it outward and utilise to reflect upon the wider context of a particular space and a particular age. Furthermore, an engagement with two of the artist’s works was used to reflect a whole new light on the non-Western Ottoman artist-intellectual and his milieu in a dynamic city. Complex paintings, such as Hagopian’s hamal paintings, historical documents in their own right, read against appropriate historical and social settings show that painting in a western mode produced by an Ottoman artist may have much to say about its own environment and does not need to be a mere derivative of its Western counterpart.

64The extracted information, and introduction of Ottoman Armenian source material, raised a great number of questions concerning the art history of the late Ottoman Empire and how it is approached. While not all issues were tackled to the same extent or depth due to the lack of space, these included: formal and informal art educational structures; the study and the teaching of art; the production, display and consumption of artworks; patronage and survival of commercial artists in the art market; attitudes towards westernisation and the artistic-intellectual milieu of Ottoman Constantinople; the relationship between artists and photographic studios; the intellectual environment and relationship between artists and other intellectuals; the engagement of non-western artists with their environment and their response to social themes; historiography and the voice of the subaltern; and issues of identity. Crucially, this corrective introduction of the voice of an Ottoman Armenian ‘Other’ highlights the necessity for the insertion of all excluded voices into Ottoman art historical discourses. It is hoped that new, critical approaches to such material can lead art historians down avenues that will open Ottoman art history into new and different directions, and even build bridges between hostile historiographies that still inhabit their exclusive and parallel universes.

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Martikyan Yeghishe, Հայկական Կերպարվեստի Պատմություն XVII-XIX [History of Armenian Fine Art XVII-XIX], vol. 1, Yerevan: Hayastan Publishers, 1971.

Martikyan Yeghishe Հայկական Կերպարվեստի Պատմություն XVII-XIX ԴԴ: 19-րդ Դարու Երկրորդ Կես [History of Armenian Fine Arts XVII-XIX Centuries: Second Half of 19th Century], vol. 2, Yerevan: Hayastan Publishers, 1975.

Nalbandian Louise, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1967.

Özsegin Kaya, The Collection of Istanbul Museum Painting and Sculpture Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul: Yapı Credi Yayınları, 1996.

Öztuncay Bahattin, The Photographers of Constantinople, vol. 1, Istanbul: Aygaz, 2003.

Özendes Engin, Photography in the Ottoman Empire 1839-1923, Istanbul: YEM Yayin, 1995.

Pears Edwin (Sir), Forty Years in Constantinople: The Recollections of Sir Edwin Pears 1873-1915, 2nd edition, London: Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 1916.

Peltonen Matti, “What is Micro in Microhistory”, in Hans Renders and Binne de Haan (eds.), Theoretical Discussions of Biography: Approaches from History, Microhistory, and Life Writing, Leiden: Brill, 2014, p. 105-118.

Pouillon Francois, “Testimony based on Different Portraits of Abd el-Kader in Oriental Clothes”, Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, December 2012, no. 132, p. 199-228.

Quataert Donald, Social Disintegration and Popular Resistance in the Ottoman Empire 1881-1908: Reactions to European Economic Penetration, New York: New York University Studies in Near Eastern Civilization, no. 9, New York University Press, 1983.

Quataert Donald, “Labor Policies and Politics in the Ottoman Empire: Porters and the Sublime Port, 1826-1896”, in Heath W. Lowry and Donald Quataert (eds.), Humanist and Scholar: Essays in Honor of Andreas Tietze, Istanbul: ISIS Press, 1993, p. 59-69.

Renda Günsel, Erol Turan, Turani Adnan, Özsegin Kaya, Aslier Mustafa and Çoker Adnan, A History of Turkish Painting, Geneva: Palasar, 1987.

Renders Hans and De Haan Binne (eds.), Theoretical Discussions of Biography: Approaches from History, Microhistory, and Life Writing, Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Roberts Mary, “Genealogies of Display: Cross Cultural Networks at the 1880s Istanbul Exhibitions”, in Zeynep Inankur, Reina Lewis and Mary Roberts (eds.) The Poetics and Politics of Place: Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism, Istanbul: Pera Museum Publication, 2011, p. 127-142.

Said Edward, Culture and Imperialism, London: Vintage, 1994.

Saris Mayda, Armenian Painting from the Beginning to the Present, Istanbul: Agos Publishing, 2005.

Shaw Wendy M.K., Ottoman Painting: Reflections of Western Art From the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic, London: I.B. Tauris, 2011.

Sevinç Gülsen and Fazlioğlu Ayşe, Turkish Participation to the Chicago World’s Fair, Ankara: The Turkish Yearbook, vol. 31, 2002, p. 22-30.

Sinanlar Uslu Seza, Pera Resamlari - Pera Sergileri: 1845-1916 [Les peintres et les expositions de Pera: 1845-1916], Istanbul: Institut Français d’Istanbul, 2010.

Sinemoğlu Nermin, “Askeri Müzede Bulunan Resim Koleksiyonu” [Art Collection Found at the Military Museum], in Ninth International Congress of Turkish Art, vol. 3, Istanbul: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey, 1995; p. 213-221.

Sirouni Hagop, Սիմոն Յակոբեան [Simon Hagopian], Bucharest: Navasart, vol. 1, Ժ-ԺԲ, 360 [72], 1924.

Soulahian Kouyoumdjian Rita, Teotig: Biography London: Gomidas Institute, 2010.

Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, in Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (eds.) Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, London: Longman, 1993.

Sully Prudhomme René-Francois, Poésies de Sully Prudhomme (1866-1872), Paris: Elibron Classics, 2006.

Teotig (Teotig Labdjindjian), Ամէնուն Տարեցոյցը [Everyone’s Almanac], Constantinople, 1912-1922.

Thalasso Adolphe, Ottoman Art: The Painters of Turkey Istanbul: Istanbul Kültür A.Ş. 2008.

Turan Erol, “Painting in Turkey in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century”, in Günsel Renda et al., A History of Turkish Painting, Geneva: Palasar, 1987.

Wehr Hans, Arabic-English Dictionary: A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1974.

Weisberg Gabriel, The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing, 1830-1900, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1980.

Yildiz Gültekin, Ottoman Participation in World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago 1893), Istanbul: Türkluk Arastirmalari Dergisi - 9, 2001, p. 131-167.

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Notes

1 Note: Throughout this essay the artist is referred to as ‘Hagopian’, as per the Western Armenian transliteration of the artist’s surname. Modern Turkish texts refer to him as ‘Agopian’, which is how he often signed his name in French. Transliteration throughout the work is Western Armenian except when referring to Eastern Armenian sources. Orthography is Mesrobian (Classical) except when quoting Soviet and Republican material. All translations are my own unless specified otherwise.

2 File accessed in July 2014. National Gallery of Armenia Archives, Yerevan, File Ֆ7, Թպ5.

3 Teotig, 1912, p. 247-248.

4 Porters: derived from the Arabic hamala, meaning ‘to carry’. H. Wehr, 1974, p. 206-207. Teotig uses the Armenian compound Բեռնակիրներ: burden-carriers.

5 Further, no works by Hagopian are held at the National Gallery of Armenia Collection.

6 Despite being one of the most popular genres of historical scholarship, biography has also been one of the most controversial. There is a vast literature on biography and art history. See C. Ginzburg, 2014, p. 139-166; G. Levi, 2014, p. 61-74; and S. Loriga, 2014, p. 75-93.

7 See for example S. Germaner and Z. İnankur, 1989 and 2008.

8 See for example G. Renda 1987; A. Özsegin, 1996; A. Aghasyan et al, 2009; A. Aghasyan, 2009.

9 For a lucid discussion see S. Loriga, 2014, p. 75-93.

10 For a repudiation of the treatment of Osman Hamdi by art historians see E. Eldem 2012, p. 339-383.

11 See E. Eldem, 2009, p. 39.

12 See for example Z. Çelik, 2002, p. 19-26.

13 W. Shaw, 2010, p. 188 (fn 17).

14 See E. Turan, 1987; A. Özsegin, 1996; S. Bağci, 2010; S. Germaner, 2012.

15 See for example B. Öztuncay, 2003, p. 11, 179 (fn 2), 219, 220-221 for his treatment of the Abdullah Frères.

16 E. Eldem, 2009, p. 39.

17 Ibid. Unfortunately a virulent obsession with nation building persists in Turkey and the post-Soviet Transcaucasus that regularly spills into art historiography.

18 W. Shaw, 2010, p. 188 (fn 17).

19 Term coined by microhistorian Edoardo Grendi. The citation is from S. Loriga, 2014, p. 90.

20 I would like to thank Varvara Basmadjian for locating the original painting in a private home, and putting an end to an eighteen-month search. I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to the collector-owner of the work for his generosity, enthusiastic support and permission for the reproduction of the two Hagopian paintings discussed in the essay.

21 S. Loriga, 2014, p. 90, 91.

22 Ibid.

23 See C. Ginzburg, 2013, p. 87-113.

24 See e.g. E. Said, 1994, p. 230-408; also G.C. Spivak, 1993, p. 66-111.

25 C. Geertz, 1973, p. 5, 14.

26 T.J. Clark, 1973, p. 9-20.

27Գարաքէօյի Կամուրջէն Անցնող Բեռնակիրները.

28Թուրք Բեռնակիրներ Գարաքէօյի Կամուրջին Վրայ’.

29 The painting is undated. After a thorough physical examination of the work, front and back, my opinion is that it was probably executed around 1905. While it may have been produced at any time between 1889 and 1910, in the absence of concrete information we cannot be certain of a precise date. The same argument applies to the second painting discussed later in the essay.

30 T.J. Clark, 1973, p. 12.

31 Id., p. 10.

32 Id., p. 12-13.

33 G. Weisberg, 1980, p. ix-xiv, 1-14.

34 See J. Etmekjian, 1964, p. 214-238.

35 Luminaries of this movement included Arpiar Arpiarian (1852-1908), Krikor Zohrab (1861-1915), Dickran Gamsaragan (1866-1941) and Hrant (Melkon Gurdjian, 1859-1915). A socially reformist Realist literature was particularly vigorous between 1884 and 1896 but retained its dominance until the advent of World War I. Realism in its Western Armenian incarnation is a complex and nuanced phenomenon. Romantic undercurrents are sometimes evident in many self-consciously Realist works. A discussion of this subject is beyond the scope of this essay.

36 J. Etmekjian, 1964, p. 220.

37 Hayrenik, no. 71, 31 October 1891; Hayrenik, no. 632, 10 November 1893.

38 Պանդուխտ from the Greek πάνδοχος: see H. Adjaryan, 1979, vol. IV, p. 20.

39 Muş.

40 See, for example, D. Quataert, 1983, p. 97.

41 Single men: Turkish.

42 From the Arabic (han or khan) meaning inn, dwelling place or caravanserai. J.M. Cowan, 1976, p. 224.

43 D. Quataert, 1983, p. 97.

44 Hrant, 1931; C. Clay, 1998, p. 1-32.

45 Hrant, 1931, p. 21-157.

46 J. Etmekjian, 1964, p. 218, 221.

47 While a discussion of the massacres is outside the scope of this essay, I will suffice with a quote from E. Pears, 1916, p. 161-162 where he notes: ‘The word was passed that if the Armenian guardians of shops and offices, together with the hamals or porters, could be killed off their places could be taken by Turks and Kurds from the interior.’

48 Painting introduced to me with the title Mshetsi Hamal. Hagopian may have given it other names.

49 Մանուկ Աղբար, [Brother Manoog]: ‘Brother’ is a term of endearment. For Srabian see G. Kurkman, vol. II, p. 762-767.

50 Key to pseudonyms: handwritten note by Aram Andonian, Pseudonyms in Hayrenik inside cover binding of 1891 Volume of Hayrenik, AGBU Nubarian Library, Paris.

51 Arevelk, no. 45, 25 February 1884.

52 Hrant, 1931, p 35.

53 I was shown the photograph of a second version, whereabouts unknown.

54 E. Eldem, 2001, p. 135-142.

55 Ibid; also Z. Çelik, 1993.

56 P. Bourdieu, 2000, p. 297-303; See also M. Grenfell, 2012, p. 11-12.

57 Samatya. At the time of Hagopian’s birth, this Armenian populated district on the Marmara shoreline, alongside Kumkapi, also Armenian populated and the seat of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate, were part of the 2nd District, one of the 14 districts of Constantinople. Z. Çelik, 1993, p. 34 (Map 20), 67.

58 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.

59 Ibid.

60 School name added by G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.

61 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.

62 Upmarket district on the European side of Constantinople populated by Westerners and Ottoman non-Muslims.

63 Often referred to in contemporary texts by the French version of his name Telemaque.

64 For Telemach Ekserdjian see G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 362-363.

65 Teotig, 1912, p. 247. Street number provided by G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 362.

66 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

67 T. Erol, 1987, p. 92. S. Germaner, 2012, p. 61.

68 W. Shaw, 2011, p. 32, 36, 37. See also G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 16; Y. Martikyan, 1971, vol. I, p. 190-204.

69 W. Shaw (2011) p. 32, 36, 37.

70 Teotig, 1912, p. 241; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 362 (Sakayan’s name misspelled as Sakaryan).

71 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. II, p. 726; Teotig, 1912, p. 241.

72 M. Roberts, 2011, p. 130.

73 W. Shaw, 2011, p. 57; S. Bağci et al, 2010, p. 305; A. Thalasso, 2008, p. 30.

74 Z. Çelik, 1993, p. 152.

75 Ibid.

76 Arevelk, no. 124, 31 May 1884.

77 Ekserdjian probably emigrated in 1883 or 1884. See Arevelk, no. 1841, 3 March 1890. The author writes that Ekserdjian had emigrated to New York just under five years before; Arevelk, no. 728, 9 June 1886, names Ekserdjian as vice chairman of the New York Armenian Association. Kurkman notes that Ekserdjian emigrated in 1883; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 363.

78 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.

79 His two Armenian classmates, Arshag Fetvadjian and Vichen Arslanian, were nine years younger, as were the other three students Giovanni della Tolla, Şevket and Ghalib, the latter two appearing to have entered the school at seven and eleven respectively. See T. Erol, 1987, p. 138.

80 Teotig, 1912, p. 247. Kurkman translates the name of the painting as The Imperial Gallery at Eminonu; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.

81 Enquiring about access to the Archives of Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul (successor to the Fine Arts School) I was told that much of the archive had been destroyed in a fire in April 1948.

82 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888. Fetvadjian, a native of Trebizonde (Trabzon) on the Black Sea, had been sent to Constantinople to study at the Fine Arts School in 1884 and had become one of its first, as well as the School’s youngest ever graduate. By 1888 he had already gone to the Accademia di San Luca in Rome from where he published a number of essays on art and art history in the Constantinople Armenian press, the daily Arevelk and the weekly Masis. See L. Chookaszian, 2011, p. 21.

83 Armenian abbreviation for Constantinople.

84 Makriköy.

85 Balat.

86 Hasköy.

87 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

88 Fetvadjian had only two Armenian classmates at the School. The other, Vichen Arslanian (1866-1942) also a native of Constantinople, was of better means.

89 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.

90 Photograph published in a number of titles including E. Edhem, 2010, p. 455; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 46. Only the teachers are identified.

91 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

92 Notables.

93 No relation to Simon Hagopian.

94 Fetvadjian uses the verb շինել, to construct.

95 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

96 Teotig, 1912, p. 248.

97 Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

98 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

99 Ibid.

100 Ibid.

101 Hayrenik, no. 779, 9 April 1894.

102 Ibid. For a reproduction of a religious painting by Hagopian Thaddeus and Bartholomew, at St Krikor, in Samatia, see Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 123.

103 There are two brief reports on the Fine Arts School published in 1884 Arevelk, Nos. 124, 31 May 1884, and 132, 9 June 1884. The first was reprinted from the French language daily Le Moniteur Oriental on the occasion of the School’s first anniversary. No students or prize-winners are mentioned.

104 Arevelk, no. 363, 18 March 1885.

105 The newspaper appears to have done away with any report on the Fine Arts School in 1886. Based on research of the entire year [unable to access two editions – Nos. 629, 707].

106 Galip.

107 Şevket may be different from Şevket Dag.

108 Arslanian.

109 Giovanni Della Tolla.

110 Arevelk, no. 1112, 19 September 1887.

111 The reference is certainly to the Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Camii in Istanbul. Teotig confirms the mosque’s location in Kadirga (‘Գատըրկայի կողմերը Սօֆուլու Սեյիտ Մեհմէտ Փաշայի երեք ու կէս դար հնութիւն ունեցող Մէտրէսէն); Teotig, 1912, p. 247.

112 Arevelk, no. 1112, 19 September 1887.

113 Ibid.

114 Arevelk, no. 1117, 25 September 1887.

115 Arevelk, no. 1464, 18 November 1888.

116 Ibid.

117 Fetvadjian had left for Rome in August 1887. See L. Chookaszian, 2011, p. 21.

118 Giovanni.

119 Hagopian.

120 Arevelk, no. 1464, 18 November 1888.

121 R. Soulahian Kouyoumdjian, 2010, p. 11.

122 Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

123 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 100; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.

124 Hayrenik, no. 71, 31 October 1891; Hayrenik, no. 632, 10 November 1893.

125 Kumkapı.

126 See L. Nalbandian, 1967, p. 118-120.

127 Hayrenik, no. 71, 31 October 1891.

128 Ibid.

129 Arevelk, no. 1320, 27 May 1888.

130 S. Bağci et al, 2010, p. 281-283.

131 This may however have been a relocation of the studio from Pangalti to Pera: B. Oztuncay, 2003, p. 282; E. Cizgen, 1987, p. 124 (Cizgen writes that Phébus opened in 1890); G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. II, p. 791.

132 E. Ozendes, 1995, p. 210-213, p. 284-285.

133Սեպուհ’.

134 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

135 The reference is to the Pythia (Πυθιας), priestess of Apollo at Delphi who sat on a sacred three-legged stool, a tripod, placed upon a subterraneous cavity within the temple from which sulphureous vapours arose. Plutarch writes that these vapours were exhaled by the priestess through an aperture in the tripod, and at this divine inspiration, she spoke with fits and convulsions the oracles of the god. J. Lempiere, 1825, p. 638-639.

136 Hayrenik, no. 632, 10 November 1893.

137 Ibid.

138 An Ottoman corruption of ‘alla franca’, a style, where western forms were copied for the use of residential space, furnishings, customs and dress. F.M. Göçek, 1996, p. 41. M.Ş. Hanioğlu, 2010, p. 100.

139 This is an enormous area for discussion beyond the scope of this essay. For an overview of the impact on the arts see F.M. Göçek 1996, p. 37-42.

140 Another possible confirmation of Hagopian’s engagement with France and French culture appears in the publication of a confirmation of safe receipt of a work sent by an ‘S. Agopian de Constantinople’ in Le Monde Illustré. We have no way in ascertaining what this work was – there is a reference to ‘magic squares’. We have no way of confirming that ‘S. Agopian’ is the artist under discussion. P-L B Sabel, “Accusés de réception des envois de la quinzaine”, Le Monde Illustré, no. 1101, 4 May 1878.

141 Arevelk, no. 1709, 25 September 1889.

142 R-F Sully Prudhomme, 2006, p. 63. It is unclear whether Hagopian would have read the poem in its original French or in Armenian translation. It is also unknown whether or how Hagopian executed the painting inspired by the poem, the content of which is so different from any of the artist’s known works.

143 Teotig, 1912, p. 248.

144 Piouzantion, no. 3579, 3 July 1908.

145 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

146 Teotig, 1912, p. 247. Teotig uses the word ‘իշխանազուն, term for princes or ‘those borne of princes’. No information is provided as to their identity but the reference would almost certainly be to the offspring of the Muslim Ottoman aristocracy. The permissive environment permitting the teaching of girls and women is a nod to the mores of the ‘alafranga’ age, referred to earlier.

147 R. Berberian, 1899. Khatchig Tahtadjian was a well known Constantinople artist, teacher and calligrapher. See Teotig, 1912, p. 266-267; G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. II, p. 790.

148 B. Garabedian, 1933, p. 136.

149 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

150 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111; Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

151 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921. Both Teotig and Kurkman erroneously report his death as 16 May 1921.

152 Ibid.

153 H. Sirouni, 1924, p. 360-72.

154 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

155 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921. The author reports that during a moment of financial difficulty, Hagopian sold the painting to the ‘heir to the throne, Medjid Efendi’.

156 Teotig, 1912, p. 247.

157 Painted posthumously from a photograph by Abdullah Frères in 1906. See F. Pouillon, 2012, p. 199-228. A further historical depiction of Abd el-Kader by Hagopian is reproduced in I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 276-277.

158 Vertchin Lour, no. 2181, 20 May 1921.

159 Twenty-three in colour, two in black and white. G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 82, 111-124.

160 I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 256-283.

161 Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

162 Piouzantion, no. 3579, 3 July 1908.

163 So far I have been unable to find any information on either prize. There is no listing for ‘Turkey’ or the ‘Ottoman Empire’ or the name of any Ottoman artist in the Exposition’s Official Catalogue; see M.P. Handy, 1893, Parts X, XI. With the exception of one painting by Osman Hamdi (G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 58) there are no indications of participation by Ottoman artists in the Fair. See for example Z. Çelik, 1992; G. Yildiz, 2001, p. 131-167; G. Sevinç and A. Fazlioğlu, 2002, p. 22-30. Kurkman speculates that the artist Hovsep Pushman is the recipient of a medal awarded to ‘Ohannes Pouchman’ for his contribution to the Ottoman Pavilion at the Chicago World Fair. We do not however know what this contribution might have been. G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. II, p. 706.

164 Teotig, 1912, p. 248.

165 See for example S. Sinanlar Uslu, 2010, p. 9-79.

166 G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 111.

167 Piouzantion, No 3575, 28 June 1908.

168 Ottoman imperial cipher or calligraphic monogram, seal or signature of an Ottoman sovereign affixed to all official documents.

169 Piouzantion, No 3575, 28 June 1908.

170 Vertchin Lour, No 2177, 16 May 1921.

171 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 4.

172 Ibid.

173 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 100.

174 Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 3.

175 Martikyan presents five artists – four Russian Armenians and one Ottoman Armenian – in his category of ‘Historical-genre’ (Պատմա-կենցաղային ժանր) painters active in the second half of the 19th century. See Y. Martikyan, 1975, p. 99-102.

176 Ibid.

177 Ibid.

178 Ibid, fig. 28. Teotig, 1922, p. 210.

179 Y. Martikyan, p. 102.

180 Ibid, p. 101.

181 A. Aghasyan, 2009, p. 9, 18, 52, 238 (fn 43), 249 (fn 90).

182 H. Sirouni, 1924, p. 360-72.

183 Id., p. 249 (fn 90). Hagopian’s oeuvre was briefly mentioned in a conference paper by Nermin Sinemoğlu at the Ninth International Congress of Turkish Art in 1991 in Istanbul, where she counts ten works by the artist: N. Sinemoğlu, 1995, p. 214, 216.

184 Id., p18.

185 Id., p. 238 (fn 43).

186 Id., p. 52.

187 W. Shaw, 2011, p. 51, 56.

188 I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 256-283.

189 This is evident by his receipt of prestigious commissions for portraiture (not least his portrait work of the Sultan with the Apollon Studio). Other commissions including the Six Scenes of Victories of Gazi Ahmed Muhtar Paşa on the Eastern Front (1910) copied from the Illustrated London News coverage of the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, and a number of not very successful landscapes of Yemen (probably copied from photographs) commissioned by Ahmed Muhtar Paşa’s family. For reproductions of four of the six war mages see G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 113-117. I. Karatepe, 2011, reproduces five of these works: see p. 278-279 for the work not reproduced in Kurkman (I have seen a sixth work in a private collection) and p. 260-261, 268-273 for the Yemen paintings.

190 I. Karatepe, 2011, p. 282-283.

191 I thank Gizem Tongo at Oxford University for bringing this work to my attention. It features in her research on Ottoman painting during World War I.

192 For images of the two works see G. Kurkman, 2004, vol. I, p. 82.

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Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1 Simon Hagopian Hamals on the Karaköy BridgeUndated, Oil on canvas, 67 x 91.5 cm [private collection]
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/648/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 96k
Légende Figure 2 Simon Hagopian Portrait of a Hamal from MoushUndated, Oil on canvas, 33 x 40 cm [private collection]
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/648/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 364k
Légende Figure 3 Photograph of staff and students of the Imperial Fine Art School [private collection]
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/648/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,3M
Légende Figure 4 Advertisement in Hayrenik, 9 April 1894
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/648/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,0M
Légende Figure 5 Death Notice in Vertchin Lour, 16 May 1921
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/648/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 481k
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Vazken Khatchig Davidian, « Portrait of an Ottoman Armenian Artist of Constantinople », Études arméniennes contemporaines, 4 | 2014, 11-54.

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Vazken Khatchig Davidian, « Portrait of an Ottoman Armenian Artist of Constantinople », Études arméniennes contemporaines [En ligne], 4 | 2014, mis en ligne le 15 juin 2015, consulté le 18 novembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/eac/648 ; DOI : 10.4000/eac.648

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Auteur

Vazken Khatchig Davidian

Birkbeck College, University of London

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Bibliothèque Nubar de l’UGAB

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