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index / Ships of Paradise

W hat better image than the sea to convey the idea of infinity and an actual voyage? And if you then put a ship in that dark blue sea, gliding along with all the grace of a swan amidst the foam-spewing waves... As children of a people that took to the sea rather late despite inhabiting a geography surrounded by water on three sides, we should not be surprised that images of the sea and portraits of ships are rather new to Turkish painting. The depiction of ships found in Byzantine mosaics, Greek terra cottas and Egyptian papyri only developed in the true sense of the word with the extraordinary advances in the art of oil painting that took place in Europe from the 16th century onwards. In the absence of photography, oil paintings, which aimed to be almost exact copies of reality, had an important documentary value as faithful representations of their subjects. Indeed portraits of ships became a discipline unto itself in painting of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Since we Turks had no tradition of painting in the Ottoman period apart from the very limited and stylized art of the miniature, depictions of the period’s splendid galleys and

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