Posted 10 years ago
What you have seen is an image of a small antique burled wood French snuff box. Measuring about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches in height, the walnut burled wooden box is lined with tortiose shell. It has a very finely painted portriat of what appears to be a Persian Gzar. The protriat is about 2 inches in diameter including it's metal frame and is covered by concaved glass.
A portrait miniature is a miniature portrait painting, usually executed in gouache, watercolour, or enamel.
Portrait miniatures began to flourish in 16th century Europe and the art was practiced during the 17th century and 18th century. They were especially valuable in introducing people to each other over distances; a nobleman proposing the marriage of his daughter might send a courier with her portrait to visit potential suitors. Soldiers and sailors might carry miniatures of their loved ones while traveling, or a wife might keep one of her husband while he was away.
The first miniaturists used watercolour to paint on stretched vellum. During the second half of the 17th century, vitreous enamel painted on copper became increasingly popular. In the 18th century, miniatures were painted with watercolour on ivory. As small in size as 40 mm × 30 mm, portrait miniatures were often used as personal mementos or as jewellry or snuff box covers.
From the mid-19th century, the development of daguerreotypes and photography contributed to the decline in popularity of the miniatures.
According to information received, the portriat atop the snuff box cover is none other than, Mahmud II (Ottoman Turkish: ????? ???? Mahmud-? s?n?) (20 July 1789 – 1 July 1839). He was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 until his death in 1839. He was born in the Topkapi Palace, Constantinople, the posthumous son of Sultan Abdulhamid I. His reign is notable mostly for the extensive administrative, military and fiscal reforms he instituted, which culminated into the Decree of Tanzimat (Reorganization) that was carried out by his sons Abdülmecid I and Abdülaziz I. (Ottoman Turkish: ????? ???? Mahmud-? s?n?) (20 July 1789 – 1 July 1839) was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 until his death in 1839. He was born in the Topkapi Palace, Constantinople, the posthumous son of Sultan Abdulhamid I. His reign is notable mostly for the extensive administrative, military and fiscal reforms he instituted, which culminated into the Decree of Tanzimat (Reorganization) that was carried out by his sons Abdülmecid I and Abdülaziz I.
During the early years of Mahmud II's reign, his governor of Egypt Mehmet Ali Pa?a successfully reconquered the holy cities of Medina (1812) and Mecca (1813) from the Nejdi rebels.
His reign also marked the first breakaway from the Ottoman Empire, with Greece gaining its independence following a rebellion that started in 1821. In 1827 the combined British, French and Russian navies defeated the Ottoman Navy at the Battle of Navarino; in the aftermath, the Ottoman Empire was forced to recognize Greece with the Treaty of Constantinople in July 1832. This event, together with the occupation of the Ottoman province of Algeria by France in 1830, marked the beginning of the gradual break-up of the Ottoman Empire. Non-Turkish ethnic groups living in the empire's territories, especially in Europe, started their own independence movements.
Among Mahmud II's most notable acts during his reign was the abolition of the Janissary corps in 1826, permitting the establishment of a European-style conscript army, recruited largely from Turkish speakers of Rumelia and Asia Minor. Mahmud was also responsible for the subjugation of the Iraqi Mamluks by Ali Ridha Pasha in 1831. He ordered the execution of the renowned Ali Pasha of Tepelena. He sent his Grand Vizier to execute the Bosniak hero Husein Gradaš?evi? and dissolute the Bosnia Eyalet.
He began preparations for the Tanzimat reforms in 1839. The Tanzimat marked the beginning of modernization in Turkey, and had immediate effects on social and legal aspects of life in the Empire, such as European style clothing, architecture, legislation, institutional organization and land reform.
He was concerned also for aspects of tradition. He made great efforts to revive the sport of archery. He ordered his archery student, Mustafa Kani, to write a book about the history, construction, and use of Turkish bows, from which comes most of what is now known of Turkish bowyery,
the mausoleum (türbe) of Sultan Mahmud II, located at Divan Yolu street.
Mahmud II died of tuberculosis - some say he was murdered - at the Esma Sultana Palace, Çaml?ca, in 1839. His funeral was attended by crowds of people who came to bid the Sultan farewell. His son Abdülmecid succeeded him.
The portrait is possibly, one of a series commissioned by Stratford Canning (later Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe), 1786-1880. In fact, Mahmud II frequently ordered miniature paintings of himself. Stratford Canning began his long diplomatic career in Turkey as first secretary to Robert Adair on his mission to Istanbul in 1808. On arrival Canning soon arranged to see officially (and unofficially) all manner of Ottoman institutions, buildings and customs. What made his curiosity really valuable is that he hired a local artist to make this large series of views and studies of what he had seen. The identity of the artist is unknown, though Turkish scholars believe that he was part of the studio or circle of Konstantin Kapidagli. His style combines the dense and brilliant water and bodycolour used by Ottoman artists with European conventions of representation and perspective.
As a young man, the artist and future neo-classical architect Charles Cockerell went to Istanbul in 1810, stayed at the embassy, and even met Byron there. There Cockerell (with an interpreter) met and discussed painting technique with this Greek artist whom, frustratingly, he did not name in his letters. Cockerell's copies of the Greek's architectural views are now in the British Museum.
I welcome any and all information pertaining to this item, especially the name of the person in the portriat.