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A Turkish Painter in Perspective Ali Sami Boyar
2003 / April

The Turkish Republic issued its first stamps in 1925 and its first banknotes in 1926. Both were designed by the same artist, Ali Sami Boyar, who came first in the design competition that was held. Boyar was a naval officer who had trained at the Academy of Fine Arts and under Cormon in Paris. Upon his return from France he worked at Istanbul's museums, taught at the Academy of Fine Arts for Girls and the Academy of Fine Arts, becoming director of the latter institution. As an artist he became famous for his paintings of Istanbul's mosques and fountains. Ali Sami Boyar was born in Istanbul in 1880 and graduated from Heybeli Naval College in 1898. Since he was a child he had loved painting, and he went on to enrol at the Academy, where he graduated as first in his year. After teaching art at the Naval College he was sent for further studies in Paris in 1909. There he worked in the studio of the famous painter, Cormon, and did copies of works by famous French artists for the Imperial Museum in Istanbul.

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A Turkish Painter in Perspective Ali Sami Boyar
2003 / April

When he returned home in 1914, he continued his career as a professional artist, while also working at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art (then the Evkaf Museum) and the Naval Museum. For some years before his retirement he served as director of Haghia Sophia Museum. When the Sultan Osman battleship was purchased for the Ottoman navy, a competition was held for a painting of this dreadnought, and Ali Sami Boyar won first prize. He painted hundreds of pictures on many subjects, but Istanbul's mosques and fountains were his favourite subject and that for which he is best remembered. Many of his large watercolour paintings were sold to foreign collectors, and he has a prominent place in Turkey's modern art history. In 1925, when the first stamps and first banknotes of the Turkish Republic were being printed in London, Boyar was sent to that city.

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A Turkish Painter in Perspective Ali Sami Boyar
2003 / April

Over the next few years his fame spread beyond Turkey's boundaries, and at the exhibition of his work in Paris in 1931 all the paintings were sold. He continued to paint prolifically into his old age. He died in 1967 but his memory lives in in his paintings in many collections and museums.

* Taha Toros is a historian.

The coins illustrated here come from Cem Mahruki’s collection, the stamps from Hakan Bingöl’s collection, and other visual materials from the Catalogue of Turkish Naval Painters published by the Turkish Naval Command

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