Why the bidding may be furious for a portrait of Ottoman ruler Mehmed II, coming up for sale soon

Special Why the bidding may be furious for a portrait of Ottoman ruler Mehmed II, coming up for sale soon
1 / 2
Unlike the painting by Venetian artist Gentile Bellini, the bronze medallion shown above is the only known portrait of Mehmed II as a young man. (Getty Images/AFP)
Special Why the bidding may be furious for a portrait of Ottoman ruler Mehmed II, coming up for sale soon
2 / 2
Unlike the painting by Venetian artist Gentile Bellini, the bronze medallion shown above is the only known portrait of Mehmed II as a young man. (Getty Images/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 14 April 2024
Follow

Why the bidding may be furious for a portrait of Ottoman ruler Mehmed II, coming up for sale soon

Why the bidding may be furious for a portrait of Ottoman ruler Mehmed II, coming up for sale soon
  • The newly rediscovered medallion features a portrait of Sultan Mehmed II The Conqueror
  • The item is expected to sell for around £2 million at auction at Bonhams of London

LONDON: To the Christians of Europe in the mid-15th century, the Islamic leader Mehmed II was “the terror of the world,” a “venomous dragon” at the head of “bloodthirsty hordes.”

The Roman Catholic Pope, Nicholas V, went even further. To him, the seventh ruler of the Ottoman Empire was nothing less than “the son of Satan, perdition and death.”

Understandably, Mehmed’s subjects felt rather differently about the man who between 1444 and 1481 would triple the size of the empire.




Illustration showing Mehmed II, the Conqueror of Constantinople. (Shutterstock)

To them, he was “The Father of Conquest,” the man who in 1453, at the age of 21, achieved the impossible by capturing the supposedly impregnable fortress of Constantinople.

The single most strategically important city of the Middle Ages, Constantinople had been in Christian hands ever since its foundation in 330 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine.

In modern-day Turkiye, Mehmed II is considered a hero by many. Symbolically, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, which was completed in 1988 and links Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait, bears his name.

Now, a unique and only recently rediscovered portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror, created an estimated three years before his most celebrated feat of arms, is coming up for sale at an auction at Bonhams of London, at which it is predicted to fetch as much as £2 million ($2.53 million).




This painting of Mehmed the Conqueror by Venetian artist Gentile Bellini in about 1480 can be seen at the National Gallery in London. (Supplied)

This is far from being the only known portrait of Mehmed; one of the most famous, painted by the Venetian artist Gentile Bellini in about 1480, can be seen at the National Gallery in London.

The uniqueness of the likeness on the bronze medallion is that it is not only the only known portrait of Mehmed II as a young man, pictured before he conquered Constantinople, but also the earliest known portrait of any Islamic ruler by a Western artist.

There is no date on the medal. But the clue to when the portrait was executed — almost certainly from life, by a skilled but anonymous Renaissance artist — lies in the Latin inscription, which reads: “Great Prince and Great Emir, Sultan Master Mehmet.”

Tellingly, said Oliver White, Bonhams’ head of Islamic and Indian art, “the inscription lacks the ‘Imperatorial’ title, which was included on medals after the fall of Constantinople.”

Experts have also concluded that, because of the absence of any design or lettering on the reverse of the brass medallion, plus the existence of a hole at its top, through which a chain might have been attached, it could well have been “a deeply personal and significant possession of the great Sultan.”

FASTFACTS

• Size of of Ottoman Empire would triple between 1444 and 1481.

• In 1453, at the age of 21, Mehmed II captured Constantinople.

• Mehmed II made further conquests before dying aged 49 in 1481 .

This, said White, suggests the intriguing possibility that it might once have hung around the neck of The Conqueror as a talisman. Indeed, in a later portrait Mehmed is depicted wearing what appears to be the very same medal.

“For us, the single most important historical element is that we believe that the medal belonged personally to Mehmed,” said White.

“You can also say it was almost certainly done from life, that it is a real portrait that actually looks like him rather than being a typical generic miniature painting of a sultan.”

Although the name of the artist remains unknown, “we do know that it was made in Italy, because that’s where all these pieces were being made at the time, when it was a fairly new thing.

“The whole concept of these portrait medallions, which had been resurrected from ancient Rome, had begun only about 20 years earlier, in the 1430s.”

Presenting the fall of Constantinople as an existential struggle between Christianity and Islam would be to simplify a complex situation, said White. There were Turks among the defenders of Constantinople, loyal to the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI, and thousands of Christians among the 50,000-strong Ottoman army.




Shutterstock image

In a short biography commissioned by Bonhams, historian Peter Frankopan writes that despite the portrayal of Mehmed in contemporary European propaganda as a tyrant, in fact “the conquest of Constantinople was accompanied by a set of policies that even critics conceded showed a surprising degree of tolerance, most notably to the Greek Orthodox Christians who were protected from persecution by laws as well as by the sultan’s personal command — with similar concessions being given to Armenian Christians, to Jews and to other minorities in the city.”

Nevertheless, the fall of the city, “which had been the subject of lavish investment by the Roman Emperor Constantine and had stood for more than a millennium as the capital of the Roman Empire in the east — usually called the Byzantine Empire — sent shockwaves through the Mediterranean and beyond.

“Constantinople’s fall to Mehmed and his forces was not so much a dramatic moment as a decisive turning point in history.”




Art experts from Sotheby's talk about Paul Signac's "La Corne d'Or (Constantinople)" during an auction preview November 1, 2019 at Sotheby's in New York. (AFP/File photo)

In fact, according to the Victorian British historian Lord Acton, modern history began “under the stress of the Ottoman conquest.”

In Acton’s view, wrote Frankopan, “the failure of Europeans to put their differences to one side, the reluctance of Christians in the west to support their Greek-speaking Orthodox neighbours to the east, and the ineffective response to the threat posed by Mehmed and his Muslim armies set off a chain reaction that ultimately helped shape the Reformation — if not the age of global empires that emerged from places such as Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain.”

It was, said White, “no exaggeration to say that the fall of Constantinople shaped the modern world — and it was with the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century that many of the problems of the modern world arose.”




Ruins of Rumelihisari, Bogazkesen Castle, or Rumelian Castle, built by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.  located at the hills of the European side of Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul, Turkiye. (Shutterstock image)

In his relatively brief life — he died at the age of 49 in 1481 — Mehmed achieved much, including a series of further conquests in Asia and Europe. But although he carved his way through much of the 15th century with a sword, he was a man of contradictions, introducing many political and social reforms at home and proving a great patron of the arts and sciences.

“He gathered Italian humanists and Greek scholars to his court,” said White, “and by the end of his reign had transformed Constantinople into a thriving imperial capital.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Although Mehmed commissioned many portraits of himself during his reign, executed in the Italian style, it is the rarity of the medallion that has invested it with such a high potential value.

“The medal was acquired by its present owner in an auction in Rome in 2000,” said White. “It was lumped in with a job lot of medals, and considered to be of very little importance.”

At the time no one quite understood its significance. A lot of academics have looked at it, and for seven or eight years after the original sale it was thought it might date to the 1460s, which was post-Constantinople and therefore less.”

Finally, it was realized that Mehmed had been referred to by the Latin title “Magnus princeps” only once before — in a treaty with Venice, drawn up in the 1440s.

In all portraits and references following the 53-day siege of 1453 he is referred to without exception as “The Conqueror of Constantinople.”


ALSO READ: Book by Saudi author unravels Ottoman atrocities in Madinah


The unnamed owner is now parting with the medal after the successful completion of two decades of research into its history.

“It’s been his baby for 25 years,” said White, “and I think he feels, ‘we know what it is now, and it's time for the public to enjoy it’.”

There is, of course, no guarantee that the medal will be purchased by an institution, said White. But the expected price and the historical significance of the piece in the story of Islam suggests at least “the possibility” that bidders will include some of the great museums of the Middle East.




Tipu Sultan's fabled bedchamber sword sold for £14 million at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London on May 23, 2023. (Photo credit: Bonhams)

Bidding will have to be furious to beat the world record for an Islamic and Indian object, set by the sale in London last year of the sword of Tipu Sultan, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in southern India between 1782 and 1799, for £14 million.

The Mehmed medallion, estimated at between £1.5-2 million, will be the star lot at the Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art Sale on May 21 at Bonhams New Bond Street, London.

 


Saudi fashion star Nojoud Al-Rumaihi turns heads in Cannes 

Saudi fashion star Nojoud Al-Rumaihi turns heads in Cannes 
Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Saudi fashion star Nojoud Al-Rumaihi turns heads in Cannes 

Saudi fashion star Nojoud Al-Rumaihi turns heads in Cannes 

DUBA: Saudi fashion star Nojoud Al-Rumaihi turned heads this week at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, wearing a blush ensemble by Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi, founder of Paris-based label Ashi Studio. 

The pink two-piece set from the designer’s 8PM collection featured a strapless corset-style top with simple yet intricate embroidery, and a criss-cross back.

The skirt had a mermaid silhouette with a train that trailed on the red carpet. To complete the ensemble, the set included fluffy, feathered detached sleeves. 

The fashion icon, with her makeup done by Dior Beauty, styled her brunette locks in a short retro bob. She accessorized with Marli jewelry.

Al-Rumaihi attended the premiere of the highly-anticipated movie “The Apprentice,” directed by Ali Abbasi.

As Donald Trump’s hush money trial entered its sixth week in New York, an origin story for the Republican presidential candidate depicted a critical portrayal of the former president in the 1980s.

“The Apprentice” stars Sebastian Stan as Trump. The central relationship of the movie is between Trump and Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong), the defense attorney who was chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s Senate investigations.

Cohn is depicted as a longtime mentor to Trump, coaching him in the ruthlessness of New York City politics and business. Early on, Cohn aided the Trump Organization when it was being sued by the US government for racial discrimination in housing.

According to AP, “The Apprentice” is a potentially explosive big-screen drama in the midst of the US presidential election. The film is for sale in Cannes, so does not yet have a release date.

She donned a long-sleeved dress adorned with white florals. (Getty Images)

Al-Rumaihi was not the only Saudi celebrity in Cannes this week. 

Actress Maria Bahrawi attended The Red Sea International Film Foundation Industry Networking Event which took place on Sunday, at which she donned a long-sleeved dress adorned with white florals, featuring pastel hues of purple, yellow, and orange, elegantly cinched at the waist.

She wore a black jumpsuit with a white cape attached to the sleeve, sourced from Dubai-based Etoile La Boutique. (Getty Images)

She also graced the celebration of “Norah,” a film in which she stars, hosted by Film AlUla during the festival. For the occasion, she opted for a black jumpsuit with a white cape attached to the sleeve, sourced from Dubai-based Etoile La Boutique.


Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza

Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza
Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza

Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza

DUBAI: Keynote speakers and headliners scheduled to take part in the UK’s annual Great Escape music festival in Brighton refused to appear at this year’s event due to the war in Gaza.  

According to The Guardian, numerous acts withdrew due to a pro-Palestinian boycott targeting the event’s sponsorship by Barclays Bank. Campaigners allege that Barclays has increased its investments in arms companies that trade with Israel.

Bands Boycott Barclays (BBB), the organization spearheading the campaign, asserted that the bank was engaged in “laundering its reputation” through its association with the music festival, a claim that Barclays refutes.

A BBB spokesperson told the BBC that 163 acts, four showcases and two venues had pulled out of the festival.

The Great Escape is an annual music festival held in Brighton, showcasing emerging artists from around the world. It features hundreds of performances across various venues, along with industry panels and networking opportunities.

It is the event that has been key in launching the careers of artists such as Stormzy, AlunaGeorge, Fat White Family and Anna Calvi.


Lyna Khoudri joins cast of Afghanistan evacuation drama

Lyna Khoudri joins cast of Afghanistan evacuation drama
Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Lyna Khoudri joins cast of Afghanistan evacuation drama

Lyna Khoudri joins cast of Afghanistan evacuation drama

DUBAI: French Algerian actress Lyna Khoudri has joined the cast of Martin Bourboulon’s Afghanistan evacuation drama “In The Hell Of Kabul: 13 Days, 13 Nights,” which began shooting in Morocco this week.

Khoudri was among two new cast members announced in a story published by Deadline — she joins Danish Bafta-winning “Borgen” star Sidse Babett Knudsen, Roschdy Zem (“Chocolat,” “Oh Mercy!”), and theater actor Christophe Montenez.

Set against US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, as the Taliban marches on Kabul, the film recounts the true story of French Commander Mohamed Bida who oversaw security at the French embassy, which was the last Western mission to remain open.

Lead star Roschdy Zem is a French actor and filmmaker of Moroccan descent. (Getty Images)

Commander Bida negotiated with the Taliban to organize an evacuation convoy with the help of Eva, a young French Afghan translator.

“This movie happens to be one of the most exciting challenges that has been offered to me. Firstly, there is this character based on a real-life person, whose fate intersects with history itself. Secondly, the context of fleeing your own country has left no one indifferent thus bringing us to a story within history, the one that we are interested in,” Zem said, according to Deadline.

“It tells us how, in the heart of a recent drama, a few individuals only listened to their courage to save what many would consider dear, with the feeling that they were only doing what seemed right to them. Heroes, as many would call them, because they retain the most essential quality: humanity,” he added.

The film marks a change for Bourboulon after period dramas “The Three Musketeers – Part II: Milady,” “The Three Musketeers – Part I: D’Artagnan” and “Eiffel.”

“13 Days 13 Nights is the breathtaking story of one of the most incredible exfiltration operations ever organized by France, as well as the story of men and women whose destinies have been shattered as they attempt to flee in order to survive… Roschdy Zem was an obvious choice for the role, having been associated with the project from the very beginning of the writing process,” said the director.

Khoudri, 31, first rose to prominence in her role as Nedjma in Mounia Meddour’s critically acclaimed drama “Papicha.” For her work in the film, she won the Orizzonti Award for best actress at the 74th Venice Film Festival, and she was nominated in the Cesar Awards’ most promising actress category.

Khoudri also starred in the 2019 mini-series “Les Sauvages” and in 2016’s “Blood on the Docks.”

Notably, she was cast in Wes Anderson’s 2021 comedy “The French Dispatch” alongside Timothee Chalamet, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Owen Wilson.


Jean Paul Gaultier names Ameni Esseibi as first regional ambassador for fragrance line

Jean Paul Gaultier names Ameni Esseibi as first regional ambassador for fragrance line
Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Jean Paul Gaultier names Ameni Esseibi as first regional ambassador for fragrance line

Jean Paul Gaultier names Ameni Esseibi as first regional ambassador for fragrance line

DUBAI: French luxury brand Jean Paul Gaultier has announced that Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi has been appointed as the first-ever regional ambassador for its fragrance line.

Esseibi, considered the first plus-size model in the Middle East, showcased the brand’s iconic Scandal perfume in the campaign images, donning a variety of ensembles.

 

 

Among them was a form-fitting blue dress adorned with pink floral designs. In another shot, she wore a jumpsuit in the same hue, featuring vibrant geometric prints in yellow, orange, purple and pink.

She also rocked a black gown, and a sheer beige and gold top layered elegantly over a simple black base.

Esseibi showcased the brand’s iconic Scandal perfume in the campaign images. (Supplied)

“Jean Paul Gaultier is more than just a brand to me,” Esseibi said in a statement. “It feels like family. Its identity embodies everything I stand for: Rebellion, strength, boldness, fearlessness, sensuality, and a touch of scandal.” 

“Growing up, Jean Paul Gaultier was my mother’s favorite fragrance, making it a cherished part of my life. I am deeply honored to make history as their first Arab ambassador in the region, and this brand will continue to be an enduring part of my career,” she added.

 

 

Esseibi made her international debut in September 2022 by walking for French label Victor Weinsanto at Paris Fashion Week.  

She then went on to work with a number of esteemed brands, including H&M, and has featured in the pages of multiple publications. 

 

 

In 2022, the Arab Fashion Council, a non-profit organization representing the fashion industry in the Middle East and North Africa, named the Dubai-based model as its ambassador.


Rami Kadi, Zuhair Murad designs shine on ‘The Apprentice’ red carpet in Cannes

Rami Kadi, Zuhair Murad designs shine on ‘The Apprentice’ red carpet in Cannes
Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Rami Kadi, Zuhair Murad designs shine on ‘The Apprentice’ red carpet in Cannes

Rami Kadi, Zuhair Murad designs shine on ‘The Apprentice’ red carpet in Cannes

DUBAI: Lebanese designers Rami Kadi and Zuhair Murad put on a show on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival — their creations were worn by two Brazilian models during the highly anticipated premiere of “The Apprentice,” directed by Ali Abbasi.

Fashion influencer Maria Braz showcased a custom-made kaftan-style gown by Rami Kadi, cinched at the waist and adorned with sequins and feathers.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MARIA BRAZ (@mariabbraz)

 

“Like an angel for Cannes Film Festival,” the blogger wrote on Instagram.

She accessorized her look with a diamond necklace and matching earrings from the Italian label Damiani.

On the same red carpet, Brazilian fashion model Thayna Soares wore a draped silk dress featuring an embroidered high-neck bodice and a thigh-high slit from Zuhair Murad’s Spring 2024 collection.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MARIA BRAZ (@mariabbraz)

 

While Donald Trump’s hush money trial entered its sixth week in New York, an origin story for the Republican presidential candidate premiered at the festival on Monday, unveiling a scathing portrait of the former president in the 1980s.

“The Apprentice” stars Sebastian Stan as Trump. The central relationship of the movie is between Trump and Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong), the defense attorney who was chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s Senate investigations.

 

 

Cohn is depicted as a longtime mentor to Trump, coaching him in the ruthlessness of New York City politics and business. Early on, Cohn aided the Trump Organization when it was being sued by the federal government for racial discrimination in housing.

“The Apprentice,” which is labeled as inspired by true events, portrays Trump’s dealings with Cohn as a Faustian bargain that guided his rise as a businessman and, later, as a politician. Stan’s Trump is initially a more naive real-estate striver, soon transformed by Cohn’s education, The Associated Press reported.

According to AP, “The Apprentice” a potentially explosive big-screen drama in the midst of the US presidential election. The film is for sale in Cannes, so it does not yet have a release date.