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An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and by Magdi Guirguis

By Magdi Guirguis

Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been recognized by means of historians of Coptic paintings as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and labored in Ottoman Cairo. the following for the 1st time is an account of his lifestyles that appears past his inventive construction to put him firmly within the social, political, and fiscal milieu during which he moved and the confluence of pursuits that allowed him to flourish as a painter.
Who used to be Yuhanna al-Armani? What was once his community of relationships? How does this make clear the contacts among Cairo's Coptic and Armenian groups within the eighteenth century? Why was once there quite a bit call for for his paintings at that specific time? and the way did a member of Cairo's then fairly modest Armenian group succeed in such heights of inventive and inventive activity? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds when it comes to al-Armani and different contributors of his social community recorded within the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis bargains a desirable glimpse into the methods of lifetime of city dwellers in eighteenth-century Cairo, at a time while a civilian elite had reached a excessive point of prominence and wealth. Illustrated with 28 full-color reproductions of al-Armani's icons, An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt is a wealthy and compelling window on Cairene social historical past that may curiosity scholars and students of paintings heritage, Coptic stories, or Ottoman history.

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Additional resources for An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons

Sample text

And now he signs on white paper and stamps it and they write on it what they want. And they send for our Coptic children in the hope that they would follow them, but this is not possible . . He has become excommunicated, rejected, cut-off, cast aside from all the offices of the Church. 23 Indeed, many travelers who visited Egypt in the late Ottoman period commented on the deep antipathy that Copts harbored toward Westerners in general, especially after what was perceived as Catholic infiltration in the eighteenth century.

56 Another interesting development also occurred concurrently. More and more Copts were acquiring books and manuscripts for their home libraries. Again, this is a trend that was already noted to have existed among other social groups in Cairo: amirs, merchants, tradesmen, and, occasionally, craftsmen. Likewise, it appears that Copts were using the icons not only in their churches but also in their homes. In fact, there are numerous references in inscriptions to the practice of keeping icons at home and commissioning artists to paint them specifically for home use.

The Coptic Church has always tried to maintain its distinct culture and creed, independent of other churches and especially of the Chalcedonian churches. 21 Copts were extremely suspicious of the Church of Rome so that any hint of interference or even cooperation was met by violent rejection. indd 27 27 3/11/08 9:04:32 AM Coptic bishop, the bishop of Jirja, to Catholicism in 1758. This incident unleashed a flood of anti-Catholic tracts in general and attacks on that bishop in particular. The Coptic patriarch addressed an epistle to his people warning them of the tricks of the ‘Franks’ and their attempt to lure more Copts to their church through the converted bishop.

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