The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450–1750: Visual Imagery before Orientalism, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450–1750

Visual Imagery before Orientalism, 1st Edition

Edited by James G. Harper


342 pages

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Unprecedented in its range - extending from Venice to the New World and from the Holy Roman Empire to the Ottoman Empire - this collection probes the place that the Ottoman Turks occupied in the Western imaginaire, and the ways in which this occupation expressed itself in the visual arts. Individual essays in this volume examine specific images or groups of images, problematizing the 'truths' they present and analyzing the contexts that shape the presentation of Ottoman or Islamic subject matter in European art. The contributors trace the transmission of early modern images and representations across national boundaries and across centuries to show how, through processes of translation that often involved multiple stages, the figure of the Turk (and by extension that of the Muslim) underwent a multiplicity of interpretations that reflect and reveal Western needs, anxieties and agendas. The essays reveal how anachronisms and inaccuracies mingled with careful detail to produce a "Turk," a figure which became a presence to reckon with in painting, sculpture, tapestry and printmaking.


'This collection offers a rich and multifaceted history of Islam and the Turk as seen through European eyes. Rendering the centrality of the "Turk" to European self-fashioning over three centuries the essays gathered here make an important contribution to an already very lively field of scholarship in an engaging, provocative and highly readable way.' Nebahat Avcioglu, Columbia University's Global Center in Paris, France

'This well-knit collection on the representation of the "Turk" is unique in that it includes eleven studies of Venetian, Tuscan, German, Flemish, Danish and New Spanish paintings and literature, and concludes with an Ottoman view of the "Europeans." By focusing on 1450-1750, the period before the beginning of Orientalism, James G. Harper, the editor, shows how Euro-Christian representations of the "Turk," which stemmed from political and military confrontations, assumed visual importance in churches, monasteries, and other ecclesiastical environments. This religious art of war defined the imaginaire of early modern societies, and continues to cast its shadow on our world today.' Nabil Matar, University of Minnesota, USA

'An excellent volume in Ashgate’s ’Transculturalisms, 1400-1700’ series, this collection looks at the image of the Ottoman world and Islam in the early-modern period… An important volume.' European Review of History

'… much useful material.' English Historical Review

'The highly nuanced essays in this excellent volume provide a clear sense of the divergent visual attitudes towards Europe's most significant other in this period … The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye is a welcome addition to recent scholarship on the Renaissance, the Mediterranean, and east-west cultural interaction.' European History Quarterly

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, James G. Harper; Part I Venice: The sultan's true face? Gentile Bellini, Mehmet II, and the values of verisimilitude, Elizabeth Rodini; Black Turks: Venetian artists and perceptions of Ottoman ethnicity, Paul H.D. Kaplan; 'And the moon has started to bleed'; apocalypticism and religious reform in Venetian art at the time of the Battle of Lepanto, Benjamin Paul; Punchinello meets the Turk: Giambattista Tiepolo's chorus of oriental spectators and the transformation of cultural otherness, Johanna Fassl. Part II Italy and Europe: Bipolar behavior: Ferdinando I de'Medici and the East, Christopher Pastore; Dürer's depictions of the Ottoman Turks: a case of 'early modern orientalism'?, Heather Madar; East is East: images of the Turkish nemesis in the Hapsburg world, Larry Silver; The barbarous and noble enemy: pictorial representations of the Battle of Lepanto, Christina Strunck. Part III Beyond Europe: Picturing the Ottoman threat in 16th-century New Spain, María Judith Feliciano; The Frank in the Ottoman eye of 1583, Baki Tezcan; Selected secondary bibliography; Index.

About the Editor

James G. Harper (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is Associate Professor of Renaissance and Baroque Art at the University of Oregon and a fellow of Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / Renaissance