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Ottoman Baroque: How Cross-Cultural Architecture Rebranded 18th-Century Istanbul

Evening Program

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1A0090

Detail of the minbar (pulpit) of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, 1798-1800, Istanbul

The mid-18th century saw the Ottoman capital of Istanbul transformed by the introduction of a brand-new building style into its urban fabric: an idiosyncratic yet unmistakable adaptation of European Baroque models that took its boldest shape in a series of imperial mosques built across the city.

Ünver Rüstem, an art historian at Johns Hopkins University, examines how between 1740 and 1800 the Ottomans deliberately assimililated European forms to craft a new, politically charged, and globally resonant image for their empire’s capital. He explores how Istanbul’s 18th-century buildings related to other traditions of the period, and how the style’s cross-cultural borrowings were combined with Byzantine references that linked Ottoman architecture to the classical artistic heritage of Europe.

He also traces the political aspects of such aesthetic rebranding. This distinctive take on the Baroque style was part of larger effort to reaffirm the empire’s power at a time of intensified East­­–West contact, with the refashioned Ottoman capital successfully conveying a new international image for the empire as it staked its claim to power on the modern world stage.

Rüstem’s book, Ottoman Baroque: The Architectural Refashioning of Eighteenth-Century Istanbul (Princeton University Press), is available for sale and signing.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn ½ credit*

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)