The unknown craftsman made real: Sopon Bezirdjian, Armenian-ness and crafting the late Ottoman palaces

Wharton, Alyson (2015) The unknown craftsman made real: Sopon Bezirdjian, Armenian-ness and crafting the late Ottoman palaces. Études arméniennes contemporaines. Special issue. Towards Inclusive Art Histories: Ottoman Voices Speak Back, 6 . pp. 71-109. ISSN 2269-5281


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Sopon Bezirdjian (1839-1915) was an Armenian subject of the Ottoman Empire, born in Constantinople. He spent his earlier professional life designing the decorative programs for the palaces of Sultan Abdülaziz (r.1861–76), such as Beylerbeyi (1865) and Çırağan (1871), which were built under the management of the architect Serkis Balyan. This essay draws attention to legacy of Sopon, which has been virtually written out of the historiography. In contrast to recent interpretations that foreground cosmopolitanism, this essay stresses the Armenian nature of the teams that were responsible for these works of the 1860s to 70s and starts to place the role of Sopon within these teams. It also, through looking at Sopon’s archive of drawings, investigates Sopon’s engagement with his Ottoman, Armenian and the European (he moved to England around 1880) sides to his identity and shows how Armenian aspects were increasingly coming to the foreground as political strains increased. This essay puts forward the case for the highlighting the Armenian-ness behind the crafting of late Ottoman architecture and for the centrality of this working milieu to later communal transformations.

Keywords:Armenia, Interior Design, Nineteenth Century, Ottoman Empire, History of Art, bmjcheck, NotOAChecked
Subjects:T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T630 Modern Middle-Eastern Society and Culture studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V144 Modern History 1800-1899
W Creative Arts and Design > W250 Interior Design
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
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ID Code:22404
Deposited On:29 Feb 2016 17:51

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