suleyman the magnificent & the representation of power

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  • 1. Sleyman the Magnificent and the Representation of Power in the Context of Ottoman-Hapsburg-Papal RivalryAuthor(s): Glru NecipoluReviewed work(s):Source: The Art Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 401-427Published by: College Art AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 05/02/2012 12:17Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Art Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The ArtBulletin.

2. Stileyman the Magnificent and the Representationof Power inthe Context of Ottoman-Hapsburg-PapalRivalry Giilru NecipogluThis article explores issues of cross-cultural communication raised by the Ottomancourts intense patronage of European artistic talent during the early part of Sii-leyman the Magnificents reign (1520-1566). It situates the network of patronageof a group of regalia made in Venice for the sultan and a related project for royaltapeStries within the context of Ottoman-Hapsburg-papal rivalry. Displayed asparade accessories and stage props in ostentatious ceremonies, these non-Islamicroyal status symbols were primarily aimed at communicating Ottoman imperialclaims to a European audience through a Westerndiscourse of power. They becamepublicized through the popular media of European prints, news pamphlets, plays,and songs, which won the sultan his title of "Magnificent"in the West. The articleconcludes with an analysis of mid-sixteenth-century changes in cultural orientationthat abruptly brought this lively chapter in East-West artistic relations to an end.Three Venetian woodcuts and an engraving by Agostino dicates that besides a plumed aigrette with a crescent-shapedVeneziano depict Sultan Siileyman I with a fantastic head- mount, the golden helmet had four crowns with enormousgear that could almost be dismissed as a figment of Ori- twelve-carat pearls, a head band with pointed diamonds,entalist imagination (Figs. 1-4). However, in a fascinatingand a neckguard with straps. Featuring fifty diamonds,article, Otto Kurz has demonstrated that these prints areforty-seven rubies, twenty-seven emeralds, forty-ninetruthful graphic records of a spectacular golden helmet pro- pearls, and a large turquoise, it was valued at a total ofduced for the sultan by Venetian goldsmiths in 1532. The 144,400 ducats, including the cost of its velvet-lined giltVenetian diarist Marino Sanuto first saw this headgear, "the ebony case.2 As Kurz has shown, this fantastic helmet-memory of which ought to be preserved," on 13 Marchcrown clearly constitutes the main subject of the series of1532 at the jewelers district of the Rialto. Three days later,Venetian prints depicting Siileyman that are thought to beit was put on public display at the Ducal Palace beforebased on a design by Titian (Figs. 1-4). The tall, compo-being dispatched to the Ottoman court for sale.1 sitionally dominant helmet is superimposed on the rather An invoice published by Sanuto itemizes the detachableunflattering rendering of the sultans profile, which appearsparts of the helmet together with the value of its jewels, a to have been copied from earlier woodcuts issued in thelist that corresponds closely to the complicated headgear1520s. The large undated woodcuts (Figs. 1-3) are moredepicted in the prints (see Appendix). This document in- precise in showing the helmets details than Agostino Ve-A shorter version of this paper was delivered at the international con-logues: M. Muraro and D. Rosand, Titian and the Venetian Woodcut,ference, "The Age of Stileyman the Magnificent: A World Empire and Washington, DC, 1976, 208-210; and Rogers and Ward, 53-54. Sanuto,Imperial Civilization," held at Princeton University, 20-22 Nov. 1987. Lv, 634-636, is cited in Kurz, 249.1 It was Kurz who first established the helmets 2 Sanuto, LvI, 10-11. Although Kurz cites most of Sanutos references to authenticity through ref-erences in contemporary European sources; see Kurz, 249-258. For the the helmet-crown, he fails to mention this invoice.most recent views and bibliography, see the following exhibition cata- 3. 402THE ART BULLETIN SEPTEMBER 1989 VOLUME LXXI NUMBER 3nezianos derivative engraving from 1535 (Fig. 4), whichperial message and its differing "reception"by Western andshortens the plumed aigrette drastically to fit the prints Ottoman audiences, the article attempts to situate it withinsmaller format.3a broader framework of East-West artistic relations during The transactions involving this helmet, which was sold the early part of Siileymans reign (1520-66). It concludesto the Ottoman court for an enormous sum in 1532, havewith a discussion of the political nature of these cross-cul-been carefully documented by Kurz, whose research has tural artistic contacts initiated after the fall of Constanti-laid the groundwork for this paper. He has established thenople (1453), which abruptly came to an end by the middlebasic facts concerning the helmet, but he regarded its cre- of the sixteenth century.ation as a purely speculative commercial enterprise under-taken by a consortium of Venetian goldsmiths and mer-The Network of Patronagechants. He visualizes the sultans first encounter with theThe patronage of the Venetian helmet-crown can be re-helmets resplendent jewels as the moment from the Ara-constructed from the patchy evidence available. Describingbian Nights when Aladdins mother brought gorgeous jew-the international fame of goldsmiths on the Rialto who pro-els to the palace: "When the King saw the gems he wasduced regalia for monarchs all over Europe, Francesco San-seized by surprise and cried: Never at all until this day sawsovino writes:I anything like these jewels for size and beauty and excel-lence; nor deem I that there be found in my treasury a single Forty years have passed now since Vincenzo Levriero inone like them." This scenario underestimates the degree of partnership with Luigi Caorlini and other famous jewelsophisticated cultural interaction that existed between the merchants produced a tall helmet with four crowns forOttoman court and the West. The Venetian partners mustSiileyman, Emperorof the Turks. It was ornamented andsurely have had some prior indication that an artifact so completely covered with so many jewels that this Prince,costly and so unlike the Ottoman/Islamic emblems of sov-whose singular prudence and power are known to every-ereignty would be welcome at the sultans court, before one, was stupefied by a thing so remarkable, and theythey set out to produce it. This article attempts to dem- became rich by it.5onstrate that Ottoman officials were actively involved inthe network of patronage that produced this Venetian hel- Sanuto agrees that the Caorlini family of goldsmiths pro-met-crown and that its iconography was formulated to ful-duced this helmet in partnership with Venetian jewel mer-fill a specific propagandistic function in a context of Ot-chants, including Vincenzo Levriero, Pietro Morosini, Ja-toman-Hapsburg-papal rivalry. Supplementing Kurzs como Corner, Marco Antonio Sanudo, and the sons ofvaluable documentation and building upon his discoveries,Pietro Zen, who was the Venetian vice-bailo residing inthe paper uses new textual evidence to present a more de-Istanbul at that time. In a reference Kurz overlooked, San-tailed picture of the helmets meaning from an Ottoman uto curiously mentions a representative of the Ottomanpoint of view. After interpreting the helmet-crowns im- court, the sultans chief treasurer, Defterdar Iskender Ce-3Kurz perceptively noted that the prints copied Siileymans profile from proportions of the tiara-like helmet, which is elongated in an exaggeratedearlier woodcuts; (Kurz, 249, 254-255). For prints and medals from the manner in later images (Figs. 2, 3, 4, 7, 8a-b). Disagreeing with Rosands1520s that depict the beardless young sultan in profile, see L. Donati, and Muraros chronology, Oberhuber argues that there is no reason why"Due immagini ignote di Solimano I," Studi orientalistici in onore di Gior-the original woodcut should have been cut long after the crowns com-gio Levi della Vida, Rome, 1956, I, 219-233. The order in which Siiley-pletion in 1532, when interest in the subject had ended: "Prints of thismans various portraits featuring the Venetian helmet-crown were issuedsort are produced when there is an immediate sale in view. They functionremains controversial. Kurz dates the woodcut of Fig. 1 to 1532, and as posters, flyers, or souvenirs." He adds that the woodcuts lines typifyargues that Agostino Venezianos engraving of 1535 (Fig. 4), which is less Titians handling of the pen around 1532, which Britto has faithfully in-precise in showing the helmets details, derives from it. More recently, terpreted. See K. Oberhuber, "Titian Woodcuts and Drawings: SomeMuraro and Rosand have dated the Fig. 1 woodcut to ca. 1540-50, arguingProblems," in Tiziano e Venezia. Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Ve-that it is a copy of Fig. 2, which they date to ca. 1532-40. In their opinion, nezia, 1976, Vicenza, 1980, 526.Fig. 2, which competes with the engravers art to the degree that it imitates4 Kurz, 255.the linework of the burin, is the original woodcut attributable to Giovanni 5 Sansovino, 134v; cited in Kurz, 250-251. Assuming that Vincenzo Lev-Britto, the fine graphic language of which is coarsened and simplified inFig. 1; see n. 1. Peter Dreyer, on the other hand, has argued that Fig. 3riero was also a goldsmith, Kurz writes, "No other wor