Ottoman sultan’s iconic portrait donated to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Daily News, 3 May, 2021

A rare 16th-century portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning Ottoman sultan, has been donated to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality by an anonymous buyer after it fetched a hefty 350,000 British pounds ($481,000) of sale price in an auction in London last month.

“Returning Home! The portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent, which was sold at a record price in the U.K. auction in March, was donated to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality by the buyer,” Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said on Twitter.

“The donation of such a precious work to Istanbul and the trust in the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is a source of pride. Congrats, Istanbul,” İmamoğlu added.

The painting of the sultan who ruled the Ottoman Empire for nearly a half century, was formerly part of a family collection in France since the 19th century.

The portrait was on offer for collectors in live bidding at famed auction house Sotheby’s starting at 80,000 pounds ($110,000), but the sale price nearly tripled pre-auction estimates, which predicted the portrait could be sold for as high as 120,000 pounds ($166,000).

The painting is a likeness of two 16th century portraits, according to Sotheby’s.

It is associated with a portrait attributed to Cristofano Dell’ Altissimo in Florence’s Galleria Degli Uffizi and a smaller portrait of Archduke Ferdinand II exhibited in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.

The painting “opens a window onto a narrative of artistic exchanges between Venice and the Ottomans in the 1530s,” according to Sotheby’s.

Last year, the municipality had bought the portrait of Sultan Mehmed II, made by the world-famous Italian painter Giovanni Bellini, at the order of İmamoğlu at an auction house in London for $1.1 million.

The 540-year-old portrait of the Sultan has been exhibited to Istanbul residents since September 2020 at the municipality’s Saraçhane complex.

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