Süleyman Seyyid Bey was an artist whose work in the field of art education made a significant contribution to the westernisation movement that followed the Reforms of 1839. While studying at the Military Academy he took lessons from two noted artists, Pierre Gués and Giuseppe Schranz, who taught at the academy. His accomplished drawings, watercolors and oil paintings won him recognition, and in 1862, during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, he was sent to Paris for further education. There Süleyman Seyyid Bey attended the Ottoman School and became a student of two leading French painters of the time, Alexandre Cabanel and Gustave Boulanger. He remained in Paris for eight years, during which time he exhibited his paintings and was awarded the Officier d 'Académie medal. After returning to Ottoman Turkey in 1870 Süleyman Seyyid Bey taught art at the Military Academy, the Medical College, and military secondary schools. He also served as inspector at the School of Fine Arts for Girls, taught French at the School of Forests and Mines, and worked as a journalist and translator for several Ottoman newspapers. He began writing a book entitled Fenn-i Menazır (The Science of Perspective), but died in 1913 before he could complete it. His works are of great historical and artistic importance, yet unfortunately very few have survived to the present day.

Süleyman Seyyid is one of the military painters, a group of artists who had trained at military schools, where the teaching followed western methods. These artists can be regarded as the initiators of the western-style of painting in Ottoman Turkey during the nineteenth century. At the military schools technical drawing and perspective were taught to enable the students to make military topographical maps, so the young military painters learned this skill early on in their career. These painters often preferred to depict landscapes and still lifes rather than human figures because of a traditional reluctance to depict human figures in the Ottoman period. Portraits of sultans were an exception. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these portraits were mainly painted by artists from the Ottoman Christian community or by foreign painters.


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