Ottoman Painter’s Society By Shaw, Wendy
Established in 1909, the Society of Ottoman Artists (Osmanlı Ressamlar Cemiyeti) was the first professional organization of artists in the Ottoman Empire. Initiated by the artist Mehmet Ruhi Arel and financed by Prince Abdülmecid, it aimed to integrate artistic production and consumption into the modern society envisioned after the Second Constitutional Revolution. By including practitioners of traditional book arts in addition to artists working in Western modes of painting and sculpture, it reflected an integrated vision of modern local cultural production. It disseminated technical and historical information about the arts in the Ottoman and European traditions through its Journal of the Society of Ottoman Artists. After its dissolution in 1919 due to the instability of the Ottoman Empire, similar organixations were established including the Society of Turkish Painters (Türk Ressamlar Cemiyeti, 1921), the Union of Turkish Fine Arts (Türk Sanayii Nefise Birliği, 1926), and the Güzel Sanatlar Birliği (1929). Following nearly a century of reforms, which implemented a mode of modernization modeled after Europe, the Second Constitutional Revolution of 1909 realized a long-standing dream among many progressives to establish a constitutional monarchy. It followed the long reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876–1909), who had used the war with Russia in 1877 to foil the first constitutional revolution, following his ascension to power after a coup against Sultan Abdulaziz the previous year.