Mehmet the Conqueror

May 14 2015

Gentile Bellini, Mehmet

THE CONQUEROR, Sultan Mehmet II. Though his predecessors had already overrun most of the Christian East Roman Empire before Constantinople fell in 1453, it was Mehmet who was remembered by his fellow ʿOsmanlis and fellow Muslims as “the Conqueror” for capturing the Empire’s seat of sovereignty, carrying with it the title to world dominion.

Image here: Wikimedia Commons. Caption in:

With Jane Caplan, A Study of History, new one-volume abridgement, with new material and revisions, a Foreword by Toynbee, maps and, for the first time, illustrations, Thames & Hudson, 1972

Monochrome image cited there as:

Gentile Bellini, Sultan Mehmet II, National Gallery, London

One Response to “Mehmet the Conqueror”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    Wikipedia, edited:

    “Venice was at that time a very important point in which cultures and trade bordered on the eastern Mediterranean Sea and provided gateways to Asia and Africa. As noted in his lifetime, Gentile was its most prestigious painter.

    In September 1479 Gentile was sent by the Venetian Senate to the new Ottoman capital Constantinople as part of the peace settlement between Venice and the Turks. He was not only a visiting painter in an exotic locale, but also a cultural ambassador for Venice. This was important to Mehmed II, as he was particularly interested in the art and culture of Italy, and he attempted on several occasions to have himself portrayed by Italian artists. He finally reached his goal with Gentile, who is believed to have painted the portrait of Mehmed now in the National Gallery, London (but largely overpainted).

    An Oriental flavour appears in several of his paintings, including the portrait of a Turkish artist and St Mark Preaching at Alexandria. The last was completed by his brother, Giovanni Bellini.”

    Venice, like France in the following century, was opportunistic. Going over to paint the infidel conqueror must have been shocking to many.


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