Miniature from a Silsilename. “Portrait of Sultan Mustafa III”
Turkey, Istanbul; 2nd half of 18th century
Leaf: 24 × 17 cm
When this portrait was painted, the Ottomans had already been in power for some 500 years, and genealogies and depictions of state visits, etc. were favorite genres at the court. Mustafa III (1757-1774) is seated exalted and statue-like on a throne very similar to the Topkapi Palace’s “Bayram throne.” The depiction is in keeping with written accounts that the sultans sat in silence at audiences while actual negotiations were carried on by their viziers.
The painting was made by an Armenian, Rafael, and a replica of it is found in the genealogy of the Ottoman sultans, from Osman through Ahmed III, that was made by Levni. This genealogy was later supplemented by Rafael with portraits of the following sultans, up to and including Mustafa IV.
Inv. no. 36/1977
Sotheby’s, London, 20/7-1977, lot 161
Annika Richert (ed.): Islam: konst och kultur / art and culture, Statens historiska museum, Stockholm 1985, cat.no. 56, p. 172 and 174;
Kjeld von Folsach: Islamic art. The David Collection, Copenhagen 1990, cat.no. 58;
Kjeld von Folsach, Torben Lundbæk and Peder Mortensen (eds.): Sultan, Shah and Great Mughal: the history and culture of the Islamic world, The National Museum, Copenhagen 1996, cat.no. 385;
Julian Raby [et al.]: The sultan's portrait: picturing the House of Osman, Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul 2000, fig. 85 (and 84), p. 391;
Kjeld von Folsach: Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, Copenhagen 2001, cat.no. 87;
Kjeld von Folsach: For the Privileged Few: Islamic Miniature Painting from The David Collection, Louisiana, Humlebæk 2007, cat.no. 126;
Kjeld von Folsach, Joachim Meyer: The Human Figure in Islamic Art – Holy Men, Princes, and Commoners, The David Collection, Copenhagen 2017, cat.no. 36;
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum: The rise of Islamic art, 1869-1939, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon 2019, cat.no. 11, p. 84;