The History Of The Academy Of Fine Arts
Dr. Ahmet Kamil Gören
Long before there was any official school of art in Istanbul, the French
painter Guillemet opened a private academy in Beyoğlu (1).
1877, a School of Fine Arts was opened in Istanbul (2)
and these initiativeswere followed by the opening in 1883 of the Sanayi-i
Nefise Mektebi (School of Fine Arts) as a result of the efforts and enterprise
of Osman Hamdi Bey, who was alyso its first principal. The founding statue
and the first rules and regulations cover everythingfrom the aims and objectives
of the school and its organisation to competitions and other topics (3).
When it first opened, most of the teachers in the Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi
were foreigners and education was run on academic and realistic lines.
The majority of the student
were Greek or Armenian, although there was alsoa certain number of Turks
(4). The first teaching faculty of the Sanayi-i Nefise
Mektebi included names such as Warnia-Zarzecki, the Polish teacher of drawing
who taught at the school for 32 years from 1883 to 1915, Valeri, the Italian
teacher of oil-painting who also taught there for 32 years from 1883 to
1915, Oskan Efendi, the teacher of sculptur, who taught for 31 years from1883
to 1914, and Osman Hamdi Bey, who was principal of the school for 28 years
from 1882 to1910. There was also Vallauri, teacher of civil engineering
and architecture (Fenni Mimari) for 25 years from 1883 to 1908, Aristoklis
Efendi, teacher of history for 11 years from 1883 to 1894, Kaymakam Hasan
Fuat Bey, teacher of mathematics (Ulum-u Riyaziye) for 20 years from 1883
to 1903 and finally Kolağası (Lieutenant Commander) Yusuf Rami Efendi,
teacher of anatomi (teşrih) for 32 years from 1883 to nearly 1915. Plans
had been made to open an engraving (hakkaklık) department but this had
to be postposned for ten years until the arrival of the French teacher
Napier in 1892 (5). The Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi was
first housed in the building which now contains the Museum of the Ancient
East located on the same courtyard as the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
This building, specially designed for an institution devoted to the teaching
of the fine arts, was completed in September 1882 and the school opened
on 2 March 1883 (6). The building was designed and
constructed by Alexandre Vallaury,the most celebrated architect of the
day (7), and slightly enlarged five yars later. However,
as the necessary funds had not been allocated, it remained incomplete for
some considerable time. Instruction began with only 20 students, rising
first to 60 and then increasing each year to a figure of 100-150, with
120 in 1894 and 195 in 1895 (8). The Sanayi-i Nefise
Mektebi changed location many times from its first home in the building
opposite the Archaeological Museum to its present site in Fındıklı. A brief
glance at its history shows it moving to its second home in the School
of Languages in Cağaloğlu on 2 October 1916 in the building known until
recently as the Pratik Kız Sanat Enstitüsü (Girls Institute) and which
now houses the Anadolu Moda Tasarım Meslek Lisesi (Vocational School of Fashion
and Design) attached to the Ministry of Education. Its third move was into
a building consisting of a small house in Şehzadebaşı on 13 May 1919, its
fourth into the Katibi Salih Efendi Konağı (now the Museum of Health and
Hygiene) at Gedikler on Divanyolu on 9 May 1920. In June 1920 it was left
without a home for some time, followed buy a fifth move, back into the
Katibi Salih Efendi Konağı, on 9 October 1920. Its sixth move, in October
1921, took it back to the School of Languages in Cağaloğlu, in the summer
of 1926 its seventh move took it
into the Cemile Sultan Sarayı, the old Meclis-i Mebusan (National Assembly)
building in Fındıklı, its eighth into the school for the Deaf and Dumb
at Yıldız in 1948, and finally, on 21 April 1953, its ninth and final move
took it back to the Cemile Sultan Sarayı at Fındıklı, which had been restored
after a disastrous fire, where it has continued its valuable work until
the present day (9). Namık İsmail, one of youngest
representatives of the 1914 generation, played a very important role in
effecting the transfer of the Academy to its final home and in improving
the studios which had, until then, been functioning under very difficult
conditions (10). After its move to Fındıklı, the institution,
which had been known since its first foundation as the Sanayi-i Nefise
Mektebi (School of Fine Arts) was now, after its move to Fındıklı in 1926,
renamed the Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi (Academy of Fine Arts). This was later
changed, in 1969, to Istanbul Devlet Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi (Istanbul
State Academy of Fine Arts). In 1982, following the reorganization of further
education in Turkey initiated by YÖK (Law of Higher Education), the academy
formed the nucleus of
the new Mimar Sinan University (11). From the first
years of its foundation the school played an important role in the art
of Turkish painting, and Ahmet Ziya, Şevket Dağ, Celal Esad Arseven, Sami
Yetik, Mehmet Ruhi, Ali Sami Boyar, Nazmi Ziya, Hikmet Onat, Ibrahim Çallı
and Avni Lifij were among the students from the Osman Hamdi Bey period
of 1883-1910 who were later to distinguish themselves as artists (12),
while Şehzade (Prens) Abdülmecid Efendi was one of a groupof distinguished
painters from outside the school who formed close friendships and artistic
links with the above-mentioned painters (13).
SCHOOL OF FİNE ARTS: ADMINISTRATION AND CURRICULUM
The School of Fine Arts was governed by a principal who acted as head
of all the teachers and employees in the school and the museum. He was
also responsible for the supervision and control of all expenses. The governing
board consisted of a secretary, an accountant and a member responsible
for the fixtures and equipment connected with the models and antiquities
used in the studios, as well as for certain library duties (14).
Books for the library to the value of Fr. 3,250 were purchased from France,
most of these being reference books on artistic subjects (15).
The teaching faculty was the consist of teachers and assistants. Besides
these there was to be a Büyük Meclis (General
Council) forming a sub-committee attached to the School Directorate responsible
for education and chosen by the Director of the school. This council was
to be composed of five honorary members consisting of a deputy principal,
a painter, a sculpture, an engraver engaged in various types of work such
as engraving and seal engraving, an architect and a skill craftsman.
Painting, sculpture, architecture and engraving were to be taught in
the school, together with the means of applying the knowledge and ability
so acquired. The teachers were to teach subjects such as the historyof
art, decorative arts, perspective, simple arithmatic, plane geometry, book-keeping,history,
antiquities and anatomy, together with their practical application.
were to be opened in the school for painting, sculpture, engravingand the
decorative arts, each run by a studio head. Every three months the studio
heads were to prepare a report on the progress of the students to be presented
to the principal. These reports were to be read in the General Concil.
In April an exam was to be arranged in the school studio for both the students
of the school and external students who wished to enter the exam. These
examinations were to consist of two parts. The first consisted of a sketch
or design made on a topic announced by the General Council. The second
was to consist of a work in either oil paint or plaster. This exam was
to be announced by the principal eight days in advance.
On the basis of the rules and regulations laid down in the foundation
statues, the principal was to take all necessary measures to ensure the
efficient conduct of the lessons in the classrooms and studios as well
the orderly state and functioning of the gardens, outhouses and other details
. The principal was also responsible for arranging library hours, the methods
of acquisitionand borrowing of books and for the preservation of all books
Grand Council was to arrange an annual art exhibition. The examination
and acceptance of the works offered by the artists for display in this
exhibition were the responsibility of a jury chosen by the Grand Council,
which was also responsible for the award of prizes. At the same time, a
Museum of National Arts was to be established in addition to the already
existing Archaeological Museum for specimens of the pictorial and sculptural
In his book, Ali Sami Boyar offers some information on the state of
the classes in the School of Fine Arts . According to this, the School
of Fine Arts was modelled on the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. As in the
Paris school, the curriculum consisted of free studio work, compulsory
slasses and other programmes, but, instead of annual examinations, competitions
and prize-giving, the drawing classes were divided into six years, each
class having a seperate studio with an examination at the end of the year.
Students who passed these classes portrait heads and, more particularly
in the last class, completely draped figures were painted from elderly
models. This type of work continued in the oil-painting classes until 1906
when the oil-painting system was changed as a result of the opposition
offered by a group composed
of Ruhi Arel, Nazmi Ziya and Ali Sami Boyar. After this, nude models began
to be employed. At this point, the most dificult problem confronting them
was that of finding nude models. It was Nazmi Ziya who found a solution
to the problem. Nazmi Ziya was very interested in greased wrestling and
had a number of wrestler friends to whom he suggested the idea of nude
modelling. These wrestlers were the first to pose as nude models in the
School of Fine Arts (17).
The dating of some of the works left by artists who were students in
those days is greatly facilitated by reference to the curriculum of the
Schol of Fine Arts. For example, by this means, we have been able to confirm
the date of a studio work carried out by Hikmet Onat now preserved in
the Istanbul Museumof Painting and Sculpture. We have suggested that this
painting, entitled "Work on a Live Model", the date of which is given as
1904 in some sources, could not have been painted before 1909. As the artist
entered the School of Fine Arts in 1904 he would have engaged in oil-painting
only in the fifth or sixth class, namely, in 1909-1910 (18).
In the course of the twenty-seven years in which Osman Hamdi Bey was principal,
the School of Fine Arts never succeeded in exerting the same influence
in the community as
other educational establishments, such as the Civil Service School, Medical
School or even the Commercial School, which were all founded at around
the same time. These school attracted public attention through the work
of graduates who played an influential role in the political and intellectual
life of the time. The reason for the failure of the graduates from the
School of Fine Arts to achieve a position of influence comparable to that
achieved by the graduates of these other schools cannot be attributed to
the fact their interests were totally restricted to artistic subjects.
Other reasons must be sought, such as the fact that the majority of the
professors at the school, at which the students spent many years, were
of foreign nationality. This meant that the students of the School of Fine
Arts had the misfortune of being unable to play an effective role in the
discussion of local questions and were much less involved than the students
in the other schools in political and cultural affairs. We should also
mention the general inadequacy of the cultural teaching offered in the
Another point of interest is the failure, during the Osman Hamdi Bey
period, to produced an artist of any real significance even in the Turkish
context. This is undoubtedly to be ascribed to the conditions prevailing
in the country at that time and to the existence of an environment, it
would obviously be unreasonable to expect works of artistic value suddenly
to appear in so short a period of time. It is nevertheless remarkable that
in the 20-25 years following the opening of the School of Fine Arts the
school produced no artist of the calibre of a Seker Ahmet Pasha, an Osman
Hamdi Bey, a Süleyman Seyyid or a Zekai Pasha. In this respect, it may
be reckoned a fault in Osman Hamdi Bey to have devoted so much more of
his time to the museum rather than to the School of Fine Arts, and to have
retained for something like 25 years the services of foreign teachers who
not only lacked the necessary competence but who also tended to withdraw
into their own shells (19). On the other hand, however,
it is very doubtful, considering the economic, social, political and cultural
conditions of the country at that time, if better teachers could have been
found. In view of the lack of an artistic infra structure in the Western
sense of the term and the condition of the country at that time, the period
must be regarded as one of transition. However, in spite of the unfavourable
conditions prevailing in the country in that time, it is very clear from
the records that all work was undertaken with the greatest seriousness.
Furthermore, it must never be forgotton that art is a work of emotion and
inspiration that comprises a number of different elements (20).
Finally, as Mastafa Cezar has stressed and as we ourselves have mentioned
above, while it would have been perfectly possible to provide instruction
in the fine arts in any building in the country, this expedient was dismissed
in favour of the construction of a new building specially designed for
the purpose (21). At first, like any other newly
foundedinstitution, the School of Fine Arts had to go through an initial
trial period-perhaps rather longer than in similiar institutions in other
parts of the world. It may be said to have entered on its maturity following
return of several of its outstanding graduates, like the 1914 gneration,
who had been sent abroad further study and who initiated the process of
artistic education which has continued to the present day.
(1) Ahmet Kamil Gören, Türk Resminde '1914 Kuşağı'
Sanatçılarının İnsan Figürü Sorunu (İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler
Enstitüsü Yayımlanmamış Doktora Tezi), İstanbul 1995; Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta
Batı'ya Açılış ve Osman Hamdi, c. II. (2.bs.), İstanbul 1995; Adnan
Coker, Osman Hamdi ve Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi, Mimar Sinan Universitesi
"Toplu Sergiler" 8, Istanbul 1983, s. 10.
(2) Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış ve Osman
Hamdi, İstanbul 1971, s. 407-408,442-443; Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar
Egitiminde 100. Yil, Mimar Sinan Universitesi, Istanbul 1983 s. 7;
(2.bs.), s. 463;
Mustafa Cezar, Devlet Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi 90. Yil, Istanbul
1973, s. 10-11; Anonim, Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi, Istanbul, s. 3
(Akademiyi tanitan brosur); Celal Esad Arseven, Turk Sanati Tarihi,
c. III, Istanbul (1955-1959), s. 130; Gul Irepoglu, Feyhaman, Istanbul
1986, s. 20; Hikmet Munir Ebcioglu, "Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi'nin 100.
Yili", Yillar Boyu Tarih, sayi 3, Istanbul Mart 1983, s. 35-42.
(3) Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar Egitiminde 100. Yil,
s. 8, Belge 1; Celal Esad Arseven, Turk Sanati Tarihi, c. III, s.
130; Gul Irepoglu, Feyhaman, s. 20; Halil Edhem, Elvah-i Naksiye
Koleksiyonu, Istanbul 1924, (Bugunku dile aktaran: Gultekin Elibal),
Istanbul 1970, s.36-38; Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış, s.
428-443, 455-456; ayrica genisletilmis 2. baskisinda da Sanayi-i Nefise
Nektebi'ne iliskin tum konulara s. 448-475 arasinda ayrintili bir bicimde,
belge ve fotograflarla birlikte yer verilmistir); Hikmet Munir Ebcioglu,
"Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi'nin 100. Yili", Yillar Boyu Tarih, sayi
3, Istanbul Mart 1983, s. 35-42; Gunsel Renda-Turan Erol, Baslangicindan
Bugune Turk Resim Sanati Tarihi, c. I., Istanbul 1980, s. 160-164.
(4) Gul Irepoglu, Feyhaman, s. 20; Celal Esad
Arseven, Turk Sanati Tarihi, c. III., s. 131.
(5) Celal Esad Arseven, Turk Sanati Tarihi, c.
III., s. 131-132; Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar Egitiminde 100. Yil,
s. 11, 18, 53-74; Celal Esad Arseven, Sanat ve Siyaset Anilarim,
(yayina hazirlayan Ekrem Isin), Istanbul 1993,s. 40-41; Mustafa Cezar,
Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış, s. 452-455; Adnan Coker, Osman Hamdi
ve Sanayi-i Nefise, s. 11, 21-32; Semra Germaner-Zeynep Inankur, Oryantalizm
ve Turkiye, Istanbul 1989, s.153, 163.
(6) Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar Egitiminde 100.
Yil, s. 11; Celal Esad Arseven, Sanat ve Siyaset Anilarim, s.
40; Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış, s. 451-452.
(7) Yapinin Mimari ve bicemine iliskin ayrinti icin
bakiniz: Afife Batur, "Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi Binalari", Dunden Bugune
Istanbul Ansiklopedisi, c. 6, Istanbul 1994, s. 447-448.
(8) Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış, s.
(9) Mustafa Cezar, Devlet Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi
90. Yil, s. 17; Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar Egitiminde 100. Yil,
(10) Elif Naci, Anilardan Damlalar, Istanbul 1981,
s. 24-25; Hikmet Munir Ebcioglu, "Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi'ni Yeniden Kuran
Adam", Yillar Boyu Tarih, sayi 7, c. 9., Istanbul Temmuz 1982, s.
(11) Onder Kucukerman, "Guzel Sanatlar Akademisi",
Dunden Bugune Istanbul Ansiklopedisi, c. 3, Istanbul 1994, s. 459-461;
Onder Kucukerman, "Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi", Ist. Ans., c. 6, Istanbul
1994, s. 447.
(12) Gul Irepoglu, Feyhaman, s. 20; Adnan Coker,
Osman Hamdi ve Sanayi-i Nefise, s. 33; Selim Pertev Boyar, Turk
Ressamlari Hayatlari ve Eserleri, Ankara 1948, s. 186.
(13) Celal Esad Arseven, Turk Sanati Tarihi,
c. III., s. 132-133; Gul Irepoglu, Feyhaman, s. 20; Gunsel Renda-Turan
Erol, Baslangicindan Bugune Turk Resim Sanati Tarihi, c. I., Istanbul
1980, s. 163.
(14) Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar Egitiminde 100.
Yil, s. 9; (Not: Metindeki sadelestirmeler tarafimdan yapilmistir.
(15) R. Tuba Cavdar, Tanzimat'tan Cumhuriyete Kadar
Osmanli Kutuphanelerinin Gelisimi (I.U. Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu Kutuphanecilik
Bolumu Yayimlanmamis Doktora Tezi) Istanbul 1995, s. 33, dipnotu 134'ten
Basbakanlik Arsivi Irade Dahiliye 69453.
(16) Mustafa Cezar, Guzel Sanatlar Egitiminde 100.
Yil, s. 9-10.
(17) Bedi N. Sehsuvaroglu, Ressam Ali Sami Boyar/A
Well Known Turkish Painter, Istanbul 1959, s. 72; ayrica bakiniz: Ahmet
Kamil Goren, "Bir Donemler Paris'te Resim Egitiminin Merkezi Olan Unlu
'Okul' ile Sanati Yonlendiren 'Akademi'nin Oykusu: l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts,
Antik-Dekor sayi 35, Istanbul, Haziran 1996, s. 94-100.
(18) Ahmet Kamil Gören, Türk Resminde... s.
241 ve dipnot 997.
(19) Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış ve Osman
Hamdi, c. II., (2.bs.), s. 473-474.
(20) Ahmet Kamil Gören
(21) Mustafa Cezar, Sanatta Batı'ya Açılış ve Osman
Hamdi, c. II., s. 451.