Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Portrait Of Sultan Selim Ii
Ottoman, circa 1570 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper
44.2 x 31.2 cm
This large album portrait of Sultan Selim II (r. 1566-74 CE) reveals much about his reign. It was Selim’s father, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520-66 CE), who solidified the geographical borders of the Ottoman Empire and refined the central administration of his government, allowing his son and successor to pursue more sedentary pleasures such as literature, art, and wine-drinking. Nicknamed “Selim the Sot” for his affection for wine, the sultan was nonetheless a great bibliophile and patron of architecture, music, and the arts of the book. The painter, poet, and naval commander Haydar Reis depicted Selim II as larger than life; the robust sultan in his luxurious fur-lined and brocaded gold garment dwarfs both the page boy and the interior in which he sits in a cross-legged position on a carpet. This composition was one of a number of conventions for Ottoman royal portraiture developed in 1570s and is similar to portraits in Loqman’s Kiyafetu’l Insaniye fi Semailu’l-Osmaniye, a study to record the physiognomy of the Ottoman sultans.
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