By Magdi Guirguis

Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been recognized via 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 creation to put him firmly within the social, political, and monetary milieu within 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 a lot call for for his paintings at that individual time? and the way did a member of Cairo's then particularly modest Armenian neighborhood succeed in such heights of creative and artistic activity? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds on the subject of al-Armani and different participants of his social community recorded within the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis deals 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 background that may curiosity scholars and students of artwork heritage, Coptic experiences, or Ottoman history.

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

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Artists like Yuhanna al-Armani were a consequence of this change. indd 38 I C O N - PA I N T I N G I N E I G H T E E N T H - C E N T U RY E G Y P T 3/11/08 9:04:34 AM 3 Egyptian Icons before Yuhanna al-Armani Y uhanna al-Armani’s ubiquitous works were part of a broader revival in icon production in Egypt, one that, it could be argued, preceded Yuhanna himself. In fact, the revival in icon-painting that Egypt witnessed since the mid-seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth is closely tied to the movement of restoring, conserving and—though more rarely—establishing churches and monasteries throughout the country.

George, Abu Sayfayn (St. Mercurius), Theodore the Oriental, and Mar Buqtur, were also popular subjects of icons. The icons of the period, especially Yuhanna and Ibrahim’s works, are characterized by their use of inscriptions on the icons narrating the life of the saints or the biblical stories depicted. indd 30 I C O N - PA I N T I N G I N E I G H T E E N T H - C E N T U RY E G Y P T 3/11/08 9:04:32 AM A parallel development was taking place in Istanbul during the same period¸where Ottoman court painting was experimenting with a different kind of subject matter.

In doing so, they were acting in a way parallel to that of the ruling elite, the Mamluks in Cairo, possibly in an attempt to emulate them. The rise of these Mamluks to wealth and power was accompanied by considerable public construction. One could cite one or two well-known examples from the mid-eighteenth century, such as ‘Uthman Katkhuda al-Qazdughli, who built up a whole new quarter in the south of Birkat al-Azbakiya, of which the mosque, at the tip of Qasr al-Nil street, still survives, or ‘Abd al-Rahman Katkhuda, whose well-known public fountain and elementary school (sabil kuttab) is considered as one of the jewels of al-Muizz street in the old city.

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