THE ART OF MINIATURE PAINTING |
Dating back to the Uighurs in the Central Asia, the Art of Miniature Painting was an art used in manuscripts until the invention of the printing press. Originating from the word miniare in Latin, miniature is named after the red-lead color used for the capital letters. The oldest examples of the miniature painting known are found in the manuscripts dating to 8th to 11th century in the East Turkestan.
The art of miniature painting started to become important in the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Nakkaşhane (Academy of Painting) established by Mehmed the Conqueror in Edirne before he conquered Istanbul and in Topkapı Palace after his conquest resulted in a development in the Turkish art of miniature painting, with him inviting Western artists to the palace. The work named Beyan-ı Menazil-i Sefer-i Irakeyn-i Sultan Süleyman Han (The Stages of Suleiman the Magnificent’s Iraq Campaign) by Matrakçı Nasuh, in which he tells about the campaign of Suleiman the Magnificent, is one of the most important examples known as topographic miniature painting.
In 17th century, on the other hand, Levni created a whole different school with his themes and practices in the Ottoman art of miniature painting. After Levni, the Ottoman art of miniature painting deviated from its own style and distanced itself from the classical understanding of the art of miniature painting with the decline in the number of painters (nakkaş) stylizing the themes and the incline in the interest in landscape and flower paintings in the 18th century. And starting from the second half of the 18th century, with Westernization manifesting itself in the realm of painting as well, the art of miniature declined. In 19th century, it completely lost its importance and was replaced by the Western art of painting.
Brought back to life by Dist. Prof. Süheyl Ünver after the foundation of the Republic, the art of miniature painting is now no longer an art for the books only; and it continues its existence in the Turkish Art with modern interpretations loyal to its original technique.