In search of the provincial artist: networks, services and ideas in the Ottoman Balkans and the question of structural change
Hartmuth, Maximilian (2011) In search of the provincial artist: networks, services and ideas in the Ottoman Balkans and the question of structural change. [Thesis]
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This thesis seeks to shed light on the production of art and architecture in the Ottoman Empire – and more specifically its provinces in the European mainland – from the perspective of the artist, that is, the producer. Above all, I am interested in the question of the place we are to give to the individual artist in the historical narrative of the art and architecture in the Ottomans' European provinces between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. In recognition of the fact that the same individuals or workshops are recorded as involved in the construction and decoration of mosques, churches, residences, and other building types, I have studied works by both Islamic and Christian patrons and artists. In contrast to a traditional line in art-historical scholarship that supposes both the autonomy of art and creative genius underlying "great works of art," I am more interested in the "negative" factors in the processes of design and production, such as limitations due to traditions, conventions, and codes of decorum. I also study the "provincial artist" not merely in his relation to his better-known counterpart in the West or to singular personages in Istanbul, but as operating within a concrete system of Ottoman social practices. Rather than on the cases of artists whose careers were so exceptional that they were passably documented, the focus of my dissertation is on the identification and rationalization of trends, patterns, dynamics, and structures from a longue durée perspective.
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