The Implications of the Purchase

There are two prominent questions that arose in the duration of the project. One, why did the Louvre buy the painting? Secondly, why did they chose to buy this one painting by Osman Hamdi Bey? And third, what is the significance of this one painting to the Louvre?

To answer these questions, I feel as though the main reason why the Louvre Abu Dhabi purchased The Scholar by Osman Hamdi Bey, was to start the bridge of connections between the Western and Eastern world. The curator and coordinators of the Louvre Abu Dhabi have this image in their mind in the organization of each exhibition. Each one will display a different and unique aspect to that specific realm of artwork, as though you watch the transition from one world to another. Osman Hamdi Bey is this classical example of the West and East intertwining in one painting. The realistic depiction of a young lad with his head in the books signifies this part of the Ottoman Empire that isn’t build on fantasy. It’s factuality. Of course I cannot assume, but I can only picture walking into the Louvre Abu Dhabi – entering into a exhibit about European artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, only to travel back into time. The serenity of the light of the sun peering in as I walk I will start to notice a shift in the artwork. Noticing images from Italy, France, India, and Egypt. Then entering into an exhibition with the subject matter of the Ottoman Empire. Walking through the door frame I picture The Scholar standing alone in a blank white wall, where I will be completely entranced by the piece alone.

Asking the question to myself, why this painting by Osman Hamdi Bey? Why not The Tortoise Trainer or  Two Musicians. Personally, there is something more to the focal image of the student reading his text. I know that feeling, but this time it’s not fully relatable. I have never felt calm during my studying, but his positioning is so relaxed and ” in the zone” as his eyes stay fixated on his book. My eye wonder around the painting, noticing the small attention to detail in the large Western Iranian candlestick’s green and pink design. Osman Hamdi Bey was taught under a great European artist, who probably instructed him how precise detail is key in the depiction of reality. Light with his paint brush, small strokes and thin lines, everything is painted to enter the world of the painting. As though to reach out and enter in that moment with the student. Maybe he’ll turn his head and say hi to his new friend. As though Osman Hamdi Bey is ready to open the student’s arms to start a conversation. But the topic has already started.

I cannot say, I don’t know why the Abu Dhabi chose to purchase this one specific painting, because I won’t be telling the truth. In all honesty, The Scholar by Osman Hamdi Bey symbolizes the modernity of the Ottoman Empire. As Western implications were influencing greatly on the Middle Eastern world, the consumption of this one worldly aspect became much greater than anticipated. People of the Ottoman Empire, like Osman Hamdi Bey, wanted to learn more and strive for something better. The evolution of artwork comes as an influence, for Osman Hamdi Bey, it was when he arrive to France and became transfixed by the artists who contributed to the depiction of the French society did he became inspired to depict his world in the most realistic way possible. That is what you see when you look at this painting.

The Scholar by Osman Hamdi Bey

Is the understanding of something more than what is in front of you. Osman Hamdi Bey liked to depict societal issues into his artwork. What is my understanding, might be different from other’s, but I what I see here is how education was becoming more relevant. The Imperial Museum was built on the grounds of education. The process of learning means to look back to the past and see how it affects the present. So while Europe was influencing the Ottoman society, contributions from the past were still prevalent. Osman Hamdi Bey transformed into man of European standards, but he never forgot his roots. His artwork depicts the Ottoman Empire before the European implications became relevant to society. We don’t see a student in European dress and sitting at a desk with a lamp shining up above. No, we see a student in Ottoman dress, laying on his belly with sun light above hovering into his little nook in the Mosque. The romanticism of the past declares itself largely in The Scholar. That admiration for the past is probably what influenced Osman Hamdi Bey to paint this subject. There is realism in all of Osman Hamdi Bey’s work, for his life was everything but fantasy.