İbrahim Çallı was born in the town of Çal in Denizli and came to Istanbul as a young man. He entered the School of Fine Arts with the help of Şeker Ahmed Paşa, and graduated with a first class degree in 1910. He came first in the scholarship examination to study in Europe and was sent to Paris in 1911, together with Hikmet Onat and Ruhi Arel. In Paris he attended Fernand Cormon’s (1845-1924) studio at the Academy of Fine Arts. After returning to Istanbul in 1914 he started teaching at the School of Fine Arts. He was one of the artists who painted battle scenes at the studio established in Şişli by the Ottoman Minister of War Enver Paşa. He worked as a studio teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul until his retirement in 1947, training many famous artists, which is why the ‘1914 Generation’ of artists is also known as the ‘Çallı Generation’.
The ‘1914 Generation’ was a group of young Ottoman artists who went to Europe to study art in 1909-1910—principally at the Julian Academy in Paris—but who were obliged to return home at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. As well as İbrahim Çallı, the group included leading painters like Nazmi Ziya, Avni Lifij, Feyhaman Duran, Namık İsmail and Hikmet Onat, who played an important part in the spread of such genres as landscape and still life in Turkish painting. A striking aspect of their work is the way their paintings reflect their own impressions and personal interpretations. Owing to their pure colors and sensitivity to light, these painters are sometimes described as the Turkish Impressionists. Almost all of them were among the first Turkish teachers at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul and so were active in training the next generations of Turkish artists.