Unesco 2010 Osman Hamdi Bey Year
The 35th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in Paris has proclaimed 2010 as Osman Hamdi Bey Year, the 100th anniversary of his death.
Osman Hamdi Bey was a painter, art expert, archaeologist and founder of the Istanbul Archaeological museum, and he was born in 1842 and died in 1910.
Also 2011, has been proclaimed Evliya Celebi Year. The year is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Evliya Celebi who was born in Istanbul in 1611 to a family from Kutahya.
He began his travels in Istanbul, taking notes on buildings, customs, markets and culture, in 1640 he started his first journey outside the city. His collection of notes from all of his travels formed a ten-volume work called the Seyahatname (Book of Travels).
Osman Hamdi exhibited three paintings at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. None seem to have survived today, but their titles were Repose of the Gypsies, Black Sea Soldier Lying in Wait, and Death of the Soldier. An important step in his career was his assignment as the director of the Imperial Museum (Müze-i Humayun) in 1881. He used his position as museum director to develop the museum and rewrite the antiquities laws and to create nationally sponsored archaeological expeditions. In 1882, he instituted and became director of the Academy of Fine Arts, which provided Ottomans with training in aesthetics and artistic techniques without leaving the empire.
In 1884, he oversaw the promulgation of a Regulation prohibiting historical artifacts from being smuggled abroad (Asar-ı Atîka Nizamnamesi), a giant step in constituting a legal framework of preservation of the antiquities. Representatives or middlemen of 19th century European Powers routinely smuggled artifacts with historical value from within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire (which then comprised the geographies of ancient Greek and Mesopotamian civilizations, among others), often resorting to shadily obtained licenses or bribes, to enrich museums in European capitals.
He conducted the first scientific based archaeological researches done by a Turkish team. His digs included sites as varied as the Commagene tomb-sanctuary in Nemrut Dağı in southeastern Anatolia (a top tourist’s venue in Turkey and a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, within the Adıyaman Province), the Hekate sanctuary in Lagina in southwestern Anatolia (also much visited, and within the Muğla Province today), and Sidon in Lebanon. The sarcophagi he discovered in Sidon (including the one known as the Alexander Sarcophagus, although this sarcophagus is thought to contain the remains of a Persian noble who was also the governor of Babylon. ]]) are considered among the worldwide jewels of archaeological findings. To lodge these, he started building what is today the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in 1881. The museum officially opened in 1891 under his directorship.
Throughout his professional career as museum and academy director, Osman Hamdi continued to paint in the style of his teachers, Gérôme and Boulanger.