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The basic characteristics of form, design, colour and representation in Turkish art developed primarily in the realm of miniature painting. The Turkish miniature style was influenced by many trends and developed over the centuries from the empires of Central Asia to the Seljuks and from the foundation of the Ottoman Empire to the conquest of Istanbul and the Tulip era. It was during the Seljuk era that miniature painting attained the stature of national art. It was during this period that Nakishane (schools of embroidery) were established. An exchange of miniature artists about the same time between Turkey and Iran further influenced these arts in both countries.
The Ottoman style in miniatures made itself evident in the 15th century, leading to the production of classic examples in the 16th Century. The romantic scenes of landscaping in Persian miniatures were simplified in Ottoman miniature by the reducing detailed landscape scenes to plain backgrounds. Human figures, buildings and other main elements of the subject predominated. In classical Turkish miniatures, lines are straight, colours are vivid and the style is narrative. Miniature art is known for its strongly built heroes, simplicity, selection of themes from real life and the powerful concept of colour. The most important studies on miniature painting after the Republican era began were carried out by Ord. Prof. Süheyl Ünver. Courses are supported by the Ministry of Culture with a view towards popularizing the art. Work on miniatures is carried out in Istanbul, Ankara, Konya, Izmir, and Kütahya provinces. Turks had the tradition to illustrate manuscripts during the cultural periods before Islamic belief. Paper that could be rolled started to be made in China with plant fibers in 105 B.C. No written or illustrated document has yet been found from the time of the Chinese Han dynasty, of Huns and Göktürks. Nevertheless, the large quantities of stone engravings, textiles, ceramics, works of art made of metal, wood, leather which have survived to the present day, prove that the above mentioned cultural circles were quite developed in other fields of art. The oldest examples of Turkish pictures for walls are from the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries. The withering influence of natural conditions have prevented the survival of these first examples. The conquest of Istanbul was the first step into a new phase of the Ottoman cultural life. The characteristics of the period in the field of paintings and miniatures may be summed up as the meeting of the eastern and western painting schools, as the widespread interaction and communication and as the widespread availability of display. While the Italian painters called by Mehmet the Conqueror continued their activities, Turkish artists—on the other hand—carried on the domestic traditions. We can see this dual influence in the works of Sinan Bey from Bursa, who was the pupil of Hüsamzade Sunullah and Master Paoli. Meanwhile, upon closure of the Heart academy for painting in the beginning of the 16th century, its famous instructor Behzat was met with a deserved esteem in Tabriz in 1512. His pupils began to produce works in his style. Their works reached the gates of Istanbul. Sultan Selim Iran and Aleppo to Istanbul after the seizure of Tabriz and he ordered his men to create favourable conditions for those artists’ work. Soon after Shah Kulu from Tabriz was leading these artists in an academy which was called by the Turks “Nakkashanei-i Irani” (The Persian Academy of Painting). “Nakkashane-i Rum” (The Ottoman Academy of Painting) was established upon the reaction of the Ottoman painters. It goes without question that the period beginning with Mehmet the Conqueror and ending with Sultan Selim I, was one of the most interesting and important phases in Turkish painting and miniatures. Various styles and ways of expression were searched, the influences were a guide and syntheses were attained. Now we shall take a look at the Turkish Academy during Süleyman the Magnificent reign. Turkish miniature lived its golden age during that period, with its own characteristics and authentic qualities. The most renowned artists of the period were Kinci Mahmut, Kara Memi from Galata, Naksi (his real name Ahmet) from Ahirkapi, Mustafa Dede (called the Shah of Painters), Ibrahim Çelebi, Hasan Kefeli, Matrakçi Nasuh, Nigari (who portrayed Sultan Selim II and whose real name was Haydar: he was a sailor).