Two Musician Girls
Osman Hamdi Bey, 1880
Oil on canvas
Although he is regarded as an Orientalist painter, Osman Hamdi Bey’s perception of the East is remarkably different his Western counterparts. As opposed to the Western Orientalists who emphasize sexuality in their female figures, in Osman Hamdi Bey’s paintings the female figures are often conscious of the period of Westernization in the Ottoman Empire, as well as their individual identities and talents, and are thus open to learning and self-development. In a number of Osman Hamdi Bey’s works, the Ottoman woman is portrayed while playing an instrument, reading, or arranging the flowers in her house and she always appears fully clothed. In this painting, which incorporates architectural elements of the Bursa Green Mosque, apart from musical instruments like the tambur (lute) and the tambourine, Ottoman decorative elements such as rugs, woodwork, stone carving, and tiles complement the artist’s unique approach to the female identity.
You can find a high-definition version of this image on the Google Art Project: http://bit.ly/HDF60f