Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Forget Titian, Veronese, Bellini, And Giorgione... The Italian Right-Wing Wants Jews, Moslems, And Negroes Out Of Its European 'Circus Maximus'

ROME, July 11 — "Swastikas spray painted in Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto sullied Italy’s joy after its World Cup victory on Sunday, as did racial comments made by a former government minister about the French team.

Italy’s interior minister, Giuliano Amato, said today that a number of swastikas were daubed on the walls of Rome’s Jewish quarter during the postgame festivities. “As an Italian I feel ashamed, and as interior minister I am alarmed by such things,” Mr. Amato reportedly said during a visit to Rome’s main synagogue.

And a number of Italian politicians and the French ambassador to Italy issued a strong rebuke to remarks made by Roberto Calderoli, the former minister of reform and a member of the right-wing National Alliance Party. After the Cup victory he said that the Italians had vanquished a French team that was comprised of “Negroes, communists and Moslems.” Italian soccer is no stranger to extremist politics. Italian football matches are often used as a platform for far-right fans to express racist sentiments." ...

Peter Kiefer "Racial Incidents Mar Italy’s Celebration of Cup Win" New York Times, July 11, 2006


Portrait of Mehmed II, c.1480. Attributed to Siblizade Ahmed. Opaque watercolour on paper. Topkapι Sarayι Müzesi, Istanbul.

"This portrait of Ottoman ruler Mehmed II (r. 1451-81), pasted into an album, shows him in his later years. The artist is believed to be Shiblizade Ahmed, a pupil of the Ottoman artist Sinan Bey (active c.1475—1500), to whom the painting was previously attributed. Stylistically and iconographically it combines Western (Italian) and Eastern-Islamic (late Timurid) representational concepts. Exposure to Western techniques is particularly evident in the painter’s use of colour tones in rendering the folds of the sitter’s clothes and his handkerchief, in order to suggest voluminosity. This approach was entirely abandoned in the later Ottoman artistic tradition, which preferred flat, unmodelled colour. The sultan’s bust and facial features are similar to those in Bellini’s depiction of the same subject, but the Ottoman painter depicts the sultan sitting in a cross-legged posture — the pose preferred in medieval Islamic royal iconography. The archer’s thumb ring refers to his hunting and military skills. Mehmed smells a rose — an iconographic feature adopted by later Ottoman painters and also by sixteenth-century European artists who worked from an Ottoman model. Although enthroned personages with flowers are not rare in the Islamic visual tradition, there is no agreement about the symbolic meaning of the rose. Flowers may refer to the grace of paradise, and the rose in particular is associated with Prophet Muhammad, whose complexion is compared to rose petals. As a symbol of beauty and smoothness in Persianate-Islamic literature, the rose may also refer to the literary refinement of the sultan or, simply, to his well-known fondness for his gardens. He wears a Timurid inner garment with a croisée collar and a furlined outer kaftan with a large collar, in keeping with the contemporary Ottoman fashion. His bulbous turban is a direct reference to the traditional headgear of men of learning, and reflects his own preference."

Serpil Bagci, for The Royal Academy of Arts, London

Photo credit: Hadiye Cangökçe. With thanks.


Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., through September 17.

Veronese's Allegories: Virtue, Love, and Exploration in Renaissance Venice, at the Frick Collection, New York City, through July 16.

Topkapi Palace Collections, Istanbul, Turkey via Istanbul Portal, Your Complete Guide to Istanbul and Turkey


Lectures at the National Gallery of Art on 'Gentile Bellini at the Ottoman Court of Mehmed II,' July 23, 2 PM; and 'The Venice Biennale: The Grandest of Spectacles', August 27, 2 PM.


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