Relief for Despairing Hearts: Bedâyi-i Âsâr-ı Osmâniye and Ressam Hüsnü Bey

The emergence of architectural history in fin de siècle Turkey is mainly the oeuvre of cultural elite rather than the architects. Interested in the ambiguous domain of art, architecture, archeology, or preservation and motivated by the nationalist concerns of the era, these early authors exhibit two different manners in their texts: On the one hand they give examples of inventorial work in order to provide a comprehensive definition of the cultural entities of the nation; on the other hand they formulate a narrative of the "national history" around the architectural objects of the past. Educated in the Naval Military School and Academy of Fine Arts, and author of albums on naval history and a participant of the preparation works of the military museum, Hüsnü Bey constitutes one of the examples of this generation of early aut¬hors. His book entitled Bedayi-i Asar-ı Osmaniye (1919) which deals with a group of mosques dating between XIV-XIXth centuries situated in Istanbul, Edirne and Bursa provides an example in which it is possible to follow the footprints of the two afore¬mentioned attitudes of the era.


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