One of the most important pieces in Turkish painting, “Cami Önü” (The Front of the Mosque), by Ottoman artist Osman Hamdi, was sold for 13.5 million Turkish Liras at an auction on May 14, becoming the most expensive artwork sold in Turkey.
The oil canvas piece had a starting price of 10 million liras.
The previous record was held by another Osman Hamdi work, “Kaplumbağa Terbiyecisi” (The Tortoise Trainer), which was sold in 2004 by Antik A.Ş.
Antik A.Ş. held the auction on May 14 at the Antik Palace in Istanbul, featuring some of the most important artworks from the Turkish world of painting.
Stating that Osman Hamdi's 1882 painting was a worldwide valuable work, Antik A.Ş. Board Chairman Turgay Artam thanked the former owners of the painting for protecting it until today, as well as the new buyer.
The 134-year-old painting depicts 16 Ottoman characters including men, veiled women and merchants as well as beggars in front of Turkey's famous Green Mosque in the northwestern city of Bursa, the empire's first capital.
One of the largest known oil-canvas works by Osman Hamdi, the painting was likely to fetch a very high price “for the simple reason that there are practically no Osman Hamdi paintings left on the market,” he said.
Having played a pioneering role in the maturation of Western art in the Ottoman Empire, Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) was not only known for his paintings but also his contribution to the fields of archaeology and museology.