Gentile Bellini's Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II: Lives and Afterlives of an Iconic Image (Hardback)Elizabeth Rodini (author)
In 1479, the Venetian painter Gentile Bellini arrived at the Ottoman court in Istanbul, where he produced his celebrated portrait of Sultan Mehmed II. An important moment of cultural diplomacy, this was the first of many intriguing episodes in the picture’s history.
Elizabeth Rodini traces Gentile’s portrait from Mehmed’s court to the Venetian lagoon, from the railway stations of war-torn Europe to the walls of London’s National Gallery, exploring its life as a painting and its afterlife as a famous, often puzzling image.
Rediscovered by the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard at the height of Orientalist outlooks in Britain, the picture was also the subject of a lawsuit over what defines a “portrait”; it was claimed by Italians seeking to hold onto national patrimony around 1900; and it starred in a solo exhibition in Istanbul in 1999. Rodini’s focused inquiry also ranges broadly, considering the nature of historical evidence, the shifting status of authenticity and verisimilitude, and the contemporary political resonance of Old Master paintings.
Told as an object biography and imagined as an exploration of art historical methodologies, this book situates Gentile’s portrait in evolving dialogues between East and West, uncovering the many and varied ways that objects construct meaning.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 230
Weight: 503 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
From time to time a book will inspire us more than most, or convince us that the direction our own thinking has recently taken is worthwhile, or simply engage us in a thought-provoking historical story that is very well-told. Elizabeth Rodini, a distinguished art historian based in Rome, has achieved all this and more with her latest book. - Susan Scollay, Emporium
Elizabeth Rodini’s thoughtful account traces the circuitous journey made by the portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror by Gentile Bellini that now belongs to the National Gallery in London … The book fortuitously coincides with the Istanbul Municipality’s purchase of a related picture … It is unlikely, however, that its story will be as rich or colourful as the one she tells about the London portrait. - Cornucopia
Rodini manages to be both erudite and personable. She has an eye for the compelling anecdote. The book is never dull or overly detailed. - Asian Review of Books
Rodini’s study covers the journey of this painting through time and geographies, revealing interactions and encounters between different cultures and politics, and throwing light upon concepts of likeness, symbolism and patrimony ... resulting in a new inspiring reading. - Günsel Renda, Professor at the Department of Archaeology and History of Art, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Rodini’s essential “social life” of the Mehmed II portrait evokes both a memoir and a mystery novel. Her cross-cultural study blends meticulous archival research and rich critical analysis to examine every aspect of this complex painting – from its physicality to its reception spanning its inception in fifteenth-century Constantinople to contemporary London. - Lia Markey, Director of the Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry Library, Chicago, USA.
Rodini masterfully demonstrates the use of an intertextual methodology for making sense of rumors and traces throughout the book … [and] does not shy away from deep theoretical engagement, revisiting time and again the deceptively simple question of "what is a painting?" - 21: Inquiries into Art, History, and the Visual
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