Sultan Selim III thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C , Case MB2A, Shelf DR85

Sultan Selim III

Stipple Engraving
ca. 1807 (painted), 1808 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The sitter's name is given in Ottoman Turkish in Arabic script at the top of the image. Selim III (1761, ruled 1789-1807) attempted to improve and modernise the Ottoman army by reorganising it along European lines, but was opposed by the Janissaries, who felt their privileged position threatened by these reforms. Sultan Selim was a skilled calligrapher, a musician, and interested in western culture, particularly painting. This splendid print shows how he wished to be represented, as it reproduces an oil portrait painted for him by one of his subjects, the Greek court artist Konstantin Kapidagli. The Sultan often had little leisure for these pursuits, as he tried to retrieve territory seized by France, Venice, Austria, and Russia; and suppress rebellions within his own dominions. He had to alternate diplomacy with aggression throughout bewildering changes of alliance caused by the upheaval of the Napoleonic wars. Selim set up permanent embassies in Prussia, France and Austria.
In this image, Selim’s newly-modernised naval dockyard at Kasimpasa in Istanbul is shown in the background, and newly-cast cannon and mortars are lying in the foreground. In 1796 the French, for the moment allies, had sent the Sultan artillery, munitions, engineers and artillerymen, as part of Selim’s scheme to improve Ottoman military efficiency. However, his attempts to modernize the army along Napoleonic lines and reform or replace the Janissary regiments, resulted in his deposition and death at their hands. These notoriously unruly soldiers resented his break with tradition and his attempts to set up the nizam-i-cedid, or the new order.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Stipple engraving printed in black, brown, red and blue
Brief Description
Stipple engraving by Luigi Schiavonetti, after Konstantin Kapidagli (Constantin Capou Daghé), depicting Sultan Selim III. Printed in London, 1808.
Physical Description
Brilliantly coloured portrait of a Sultan, with a naval dockyard in the background, and cannon in the foreground
Dimensions
  • Height: 406mm
  • Width: 249mm
Dimensions taken from departmental notes
Marks and Inscriptions
Lettered Dessiné par Constantin Capou-Daghlé Sujet Ottoman L'année 1808 Gravé par L Schiavonetti a Londres
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Shell International and the Friends of the V&A
Object history
Part of the Searight Collection. See also SP498.
Subject depicted
Summary
The sitter's name is given in Ottoman Turkish in Arabic script at the top of the image. Selim III (1761, ruled 1789-1807) attempted to improve and modernise the Ottoman army by reorganising it along European lines, but was opposed by the Janissaries, who felt their privileged position threatened by these reforms. Sultan Selim was a skilled calligrapher, a musician, and interested in western culture, particularly painting. This splendid print shows how he wished to be represented, as it reproduces an oil portrait painted for him by one of his subjects, the Greek court artist Konstantin Kapidagli. The Sultan often had little leisure for these pursuits, as he tried to retrieve territory seized by France, Venice, Austria, and Russia; and suppress rebellions within his own dominions. He had to alternate diplomacy with aggression throughout bewildering changes of alliance caused by the upheaval of the Napoleonic wars. Selim set up permanent embassies in Prussia, France and Austria.

In this image, Selim’s newly-modernised naval dockyard at Kasimpasa in Istanbul is shown in the background, and newly-cast cannon and mortars are lying in the foreground. In 1796 the French, for the moment allies, had sent the Sultan artillery, munitions, engineers and artillerymen, as part of Selim’s scheme to improve Ottoman military efficiency. However, his attempts to modernize the army along Napoleonic lines and reform or replace the Janissary regiments, resulted in his deposition and death at their hands. These notoriously unruly soldiers resented his break with tradition and his attempts to set up the nizam-i-cedid, or the new order.
Bibliographic Reference
Charles Newton `Images of the Ottoman Empire', 2007, illustrated on page 20
Collection
Accession Number
SP.172

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record createdJuly 1, 2009
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