Osman Hamdi Bey's paintings, which are a part of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum's Painting Collection, are on display at the 'Osman Hamdi Bey Beyond Vision' exhibition at Atlı Köşk until the end of 2018.
Conservation and scientific research on the paintings was started in 2016. The project was carried on as part of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch's global "Art Conservation Project," and is the most comprehensive conservation and scientific research on the artist's paintings in Turkey.
The project included the paintings "Flowers in a Vase," "The Hodja Reading the Quran," "Kokona Despina," "Portrait of Naile Hanım," "The Petitioner" and "The Mosque." Every detail from the artistic technique, to the restoration processes these works had undergone was determined through scientific methods. The "Osman Hamdi Bey Beyond Vision" exhibition brings the artist's creative processes to light while also showcasing the detailed work of conservation. It may also serve as a road map for similar future projects.
Osman Hamdi Bey, "Kokona Despina," 1906.
This pioneering project in Turkey proves that scientific methods can provide opportunities for studying techniques of artists. It also provides ways and methods for dating works of art. This project will also be able to provide guidance for research on the study of techniques and materials of paintings claimed to be by Osman Hamdi Bey.
The first step of the project, which entailed a comprehensive perspective on the scientific analysis of the works, was the analysis of previous restoration work, the use of paints with heavy metal and other elements on bottom layers not visible to the naked eye through X-ray imaging methods. This process revealed Osman Hamdi Bey's charcoal sketches prior to painting, his painting techniques and the way his works evolved. This was followed by chemical analysis to determine the structure and color of the materials he used and the layers and texture of paint. The organic structure of the canvas material of the six paintings was analyzed through Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and the data was classified through primary component analysis to determine their characteristics.
The project showed that the artist's paintings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries had suffered from cracks and fallen bits in paint as well as yellowing of the varnishes. They were cleaned and restored as part of the same project.
In the opening ceremony held on Monday, Sakıp Sabancı Museum Director Dr. Nazan Ölçer said, the purpose of the project was "to provide the worlds of science and art a closer glance to the artist and his creative processes."
Ölçer added that the contribution by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Art Conservation Project helped them obtain valuable information. "We had the opportunity to obtain additional information about these valuable works in our collection and contribute to Turkish art history studies and conservation efforts."
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Turkey Country Executive Banu Başar said, "our globally run 'Art Conservation Project' aims at conserving works of art while at the same time contributing to the cultural wealth and education of societies all over the world. Our objective is to create a medium of harmony and mutual respect among different cultures and traditions."
Başar added that the project aimed at conserving works of art of artistic or cultural significance under threat, noting that more than 120 conservation projects run by museums in 30 different countries had been sponsored since its launch in 2010.
The project was executed with the collaboration of Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Sabanci University, Koç University and Istanbul Technical University and with Getty Conservation Institute's consultative contribution in the evaluation of test results.
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