Genzano collection (according to a label on the reverse)
Couleurs d'Orient, Brussels 2010
Turkophilia, Paris 2011
Brussels 2010, p. 12
Paris 2011, p. 74
Murad I (reigned circa 1360-1389), became Ottoman Sultan upon the death of his father Sultan Orhan I. Regarded as the first great Ottoman conqueror on European soil, during his reign the Ottomans gained territory and influence in the Balkans. He successfully took Adrianople (modern-day Edirne) in 1366, establishing it as the Ottoman capital in Rumeli, thence pushing into Eastern Bulgaria and fighting the Serbs and Hungarians in Europe and Karaman-Oghlu 'Ala' al-Din in Anatolia. Although victorious against the Serbian Prince Lazar and his allies at the battle of Kosovo in 1389, Murad died during the battle. Accounts of his assassination differ, though the Serbian tradition alleges that he was murdered by Milos Obilic, a Serbian nobleman who, claiming to be a deserter, gained an audience with Murad and murdered him with a dagger.
The present work appears to have been part of a collection of portraits of Ottoman rulers. A portrait of the same size depicting Sultan Selim I, attributed to Bernardino Campi and now in the collection of the Orientalist Museum, Doha (OM. 411) also bears the same 'G.37' inscription in the lower corner, and was sold together with a portrait of Barbarossa at auction in 1997 (Christie's, London, 3 December 1997, lot 63).
Learned interest in the celebrated rulers of the Ottoman Empire had been championed as early as the 16th century by the prolific historian and collector Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), whose collection at his death included some four hundred portraits of historical figures, each with a label summarising the character and achievements of the person depicted. The collection was known through a series of prints by Tobias Stimmer, published as Elogia Virorum Bellica virtute Illustrium.
As no accurate likeness of Murad I painted from life existed on which our portrait could be based, it is likely that several individual likenesses were combined - most notably portrait medals and prints of the corsair Khayr al-Din (Khidir) Pasha, or Barbarossa (see lot 123), possibly with elements from the prints published in the Elogia (see fig. 1).
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