Rarely seen Osman Hamdi painting to go under the hammer

The painting is part of the İstanbul-based auction house Antik A.S.’s upcoming 282nd art and antique sale on May 24 at the Shangri-La Bosphorus Hotel. Titled “Cami onu” (The Front of the Mosque) and signed and dated 1882, the oil-on-canvas painting was part of the private collection of Mustafa Zeki Bey, a former mayor of Gebze. The painting was completed during the year Osman Hamdi founded the İstanbul Academy of Fine Arts, which is the present-day Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.

The painting depicts a typical scene of daily life in an Ottoman city, featuring a total of 16 people; men, women and street vendors standing or sitting down in front of the entrance of Yesil Cami, a historical 15th-century mosque in the northwestern province of Bursa.

The 185×100 cm canvas is one of Osman Hamdi’s largest paintings, after his “Kaplumbaga Terbiyecisi” (The Tortoise Trainer), which sold for $3.9 million at an auction in İstanbul in 2004. Another painting by the artist, “İstanbul Hanımefendisi” (İstanbul Lady), sold for $6.5 million in 2008.

“Cami onu” is one of the most important masterpieces by Osman Hamdi in that it represents the artist’s trademark style, according to Edhem Eldem, a history professor from Istanbul’s Bogazici University.

Turgay Artam, one of the two founders of the auction house, says they are proud to present the painting publicly for the first time: “‘Cami onu’ is a masterpiece that takes the viewer inside Ottoman life in the 1880s with its elegant details and meticulously painted figures.”

The painting will be showcased at Antik A.S. from May 12-24 along with other items to be auctioned in the May 24 sale.