Picking Up the Brush for Emperors and Sultans. Imperial Portraits as Representations of Power in The Early Modern Mediterranean (Ca. 1450-Ca. 1650)

  • Zeynep Olgun Bilkent University


This paper aims to discuss the influence of interdependently effective political discourses and cultural differences in early modern Mediterranean regarding the motives for official state portraiture. Therefore, the paper will focus on the portraits of monarchs, foremost the depictions of Philip IV of Spain by the court painter Velázquez and works of Titian under the patronage of Charles V and Philip II in order to analyse, how the conservative portraiture culture was established and maintained during the so-called Siglo de Oro. In contrast to the western Mediterranean, the intercultural portraiture style of the Ottoman Emperor Mehmed II will be given to emphasize the significant role of political inclinations of monarchs on their portraits. A multi-layered approach lies therefore at the basis of full socio-political and cultural comprehension of the paintings to overcome a simple analysis and to contextualize the work of art within both macro and micro historical perspective.


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