By Magdi Guirguis
Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been identified by means of historians of Coptic paintings as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and labored in Ottoman Cairo. right here for the 1st time is an account of his lifestyles that appears past his inventive creation to put him firmly within the social, political, and financial milieu during which he moved and the confluence of pursuits that allowed him to flourish as a painter.
Who was once Yuhanna al-Armani? What was once his community of relationships? How does this make clear the contacts among Cairo's Coptic and Armenian groups within the eighteenth century? Why was once there loads call for for his paintings at that individual time? and the way did a member of Cairo's then fairly modest Armenian neighborhood achieve such heights of inventive and inventive activity? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds on the subject of al-Armani and different participants of his social community recorded within the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis deals a desirable glimpse into the methods of lifetime of city dwellers in eighteenth-century Cairo, at a time while a civilian elite had reached a excessive point of prominence and wealth. Illustrated with 28 full-color reproductions of al-Armani's icons, An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt is a wealthy and compelling window on Cairene social historical past that would curiosity scholars and students of paintings historical past, Coptic reports, or Ottoman history.
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Extra info for An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons
42 The study of this trend can help us to understand certain changes taking place in Egyptian society as a whole, notably a trend toward secularization of society. This is a subject that is worthy of further exploration with regard to other groups in society, because it is not likely that the Copts underwent such a trend alone. There is good reason to believe that the phenomenon was part of a larger context; for example, Nelly Hanna has discussed the fact that the guilds were making awqaf that did not exactly follow religious rules but were instead a combination of waqf law (religious) and guild law (non religious).
34 Icon-painting was not a part of the practice of the Armenian Church; therefore Armenian churches are traditionally free of icons. This applies to Armenian communities and churches in various parts of the world. A perusal of the churches during our period in different cities in Armenia, or cities where there were signiﬁcant Armenian communities—Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Aleppo, for example—conﬁrms the absence of icons as church decorations in all the churches I was able to identify. However, that does not mean that there was no artwork linked to churches.
In his view, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, many residents of the imperial Byzantine capital—including a number of icon-painters—ﬂed to the island of Crete, where they settled and continued to produce. But a couple of centuries later, in 1669, Crete itself came under Ottoman rule, and was integrated into the empire. 15 And from the Levant, it took Yuhanna al-Qudsi, to carry the tradition to Egypt. Thus, Yuhanna was the channel by which European traditions were passed on from Bilad al-Sham to Cairo.
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