Yearning for the Past and Art History

The principle concern of this study resides in the modern history of Ottoman elite. In the nineteenth century, the Western influence had already reached its peak following the state reforms. From 1800 to 1924, there occurred a marked change regarding the national identity status of Ottoman intellectuals. One of the responses of the elite against foreign influence on Ottoman culture and art was to develop a neoclassical reaction. Artistic enjoyment of neoclassical forms was based essentially upon the reaction of elite minds to foreign forms. This fact cannot be explained nor understood without analyzing the related personal identities and social classes; each identity was an inevitable piece of a changing state towards the West. Hence this inquiry is concerned with the transformation of Ottoman artistic style of the nineteenth century, and thereby with the questions of mental change. Another problem, in this context, is to point to a remarkable correlation of the publications of art history with the historiography of the period.

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