Exhibition at Polish museum showcases Renaissance artists’ fascination with Ottomans

An ongoing exhibition at a Polish museum offers a glimpse of the 16th century Ottoman Empire through the eyes of Renaissance masters.

Visitors view paintings and other items on display at the exhibition “Ottomania: The Ottoman Orient in Renaissance Art” on its opening day at the National Museum in Krakow.

In an attempt to revive art and culture, an ongoing exhibition at a Polish museum in Krakow showcases examples of beautiful arts via a selection of paintings by such masters as Albrecht Dürer, Hans Memling, Vincenzo Bellini, Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, offering a glimpse of the 16th century Ottoman Empire through the eyes of Renaissance masters.

On display at the National Museum in Krakow until Sept. 27, “Ottomania: The Ottoman Orient in Renaissance Art” is part of a bigger project called “Ottomans & Europeans: Reflecting on five centuries of cultural relations.” The exhibition centers on these artists' inspirations from Ottoman courtly life.

Dr. Guido Messling, Dr. Robert Born and Michał Dziewulski, explain on the project's website that the conquest by the Ottomans coincided with the emergence of a veritable fascination with this highly developed culture and its scientific refinement.

The main goal of the Ottoman and European project is to revisit the shared cultural history between Europe and Turkey in the past five centuries and contribute to the perception change of artists and citizens at large from both sides: “It will showcase the results of artistic exchanges between Europe and the Ottomans during the Renaissance and will stimulate artistic encounters and discussions on EU-Turkish cultural relations today,” a press release for the exhibition reads. “The project focuses on living and non-living artists. By means of exhibitions, conferences and ‘blind dates' between young artists, the project will attempt to raise awareness relating to cultural interaction between Europe and Turkey during the Ottoman era, to stimulate creative encounters between young artists from both sides today and raise meaningful questions about current relations in order to move towards a common future.”

“Ottomania: The Ottoman Orient in Renaissance Art” features more than 150 works from significant public and private collections around the world.

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