World, Europe

Rare portraits of Ottoman sultans auctioned in London

6 paintings found in Scotland now on public view for first time in a century

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal   | 18.01.2022
Rare portraits of Ottoman sultans auctioned in London


A group of rare paintings of Ottoman sultans are being auctioned at famed London auction house Sotheby’s on Tuesday.

The six paintings, which are on public view for the first time in more than 100 years, depict five Ottoman rulers from 16th century and earlier, and are “part of a wider group of portraits that once hung in Newbattle Abbey in Scotland.”

The portraits of Tamerlane (Timur), founder of the Timurid Empire, and Ottoman monarchs Bayezid I, Mehmed I, Murad II, Bayezid II, and Suleyman the Magnificent will remain active on the online auction with an opening bid value of £50,000 ($68,000) each.

“These were thought to have been brought back probably in the 17th century by the third earl of Lothian, William Carr,” Benedict Carter, Sotheby’s director of Middle East auction sales, told Anadolu Agency.

Carter said: “And principal among this Ottoman group is the painting of Suleyman the Magnificent – Kanuni Suleyman, the lawgiver – and he's depicted here around the age of 43. It's inscribed here with his age, which is around 1537, 1538, which is at the height of his reign really."

“So it's a sort of iconic image really of Suleyman in the 16th century,” he said.

Carter said another oil-on-copper portrait of Suleyman was sold about a year ago by the auction house.

The portraits are based on works from the Giovio Series, a set of 484 likenesses of rulers, statesmen and other figures of note assembled by 16th-century Italian Renaissance historian and biographer Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), who built a museum at Lake Como specifically to house the works, according to the auction note released by Sotheby’s.

The paintings were discovered in an attic in an estate in Scotland and it is believed that they sat undisturbed there for around a hundred years.

"The Newbattle Turks” collection is the property of the Marquess of Lothian, Michael Andrew Foster Jude Kerr, who is an active member of the House of Lords.

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