By Magdi Guirguis
Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been recognized through historians of Coptic artwork 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 during which he moved and the confluence of pursuits that allowed him to flourish as a painter.
Who was once Yuhanna al-Armani? What used to be his community of relationships? How does this make clear the contacts among Cairo's Coptic and Armenian groups within the eighteenth century? Why used to be there quite a bit call for for his paintings at that specific time? and the way did a member of Cairo's then really modest Armenian group succeed in such heights of inventive and artistic undertaking? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds on the subject of al-Armani and different contributors 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 heritage that may curiosity scholars and students of paintings background, 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
The theological and religious positions of a church had an impact on its iconography and constituted a barrier that could restrict potential inﬂuence from other churches. Every church, for instance, has its own local saints and its own traditions of representing them. The collective memory of the Coptic Church includes a large number of saints who were martyred as they defended their faith in the face of another Church, that of the Holy Roman Empire. The Coptic Church has always tried to maintain its distinct culture and creed, independent of other churches and especially of the Chalcedonian churches.
The local context of the Armenian community in Egypt can also be explored in relation to Armenian communities elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire. More of this will be discussed below. However, it is important to note that the Armenian community in Egypt enjoyed considerable autonomy in managing its own affairs, independent of the Armenian Church. Contrary to common assumptions, the Armenian patriarch in Istanbul, who was nominally in charge of all Orthodox churches within the Ottoman Empire, does not seem to have had any signiﬁcant inﬂuence or control over the Armenian community in Egypt.
14 Other scholars argue for the importance of Byzantine inﬂuences on Yuhanna’s art, suggesting an alternative channel for its transmission. Mat Immerzeel, for example, considers that Byzantine artistic traditions reached Egypt through Crete. In his view, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, many residents of the imperial Byzantine capital—including a number of icon-painters—ﬂed to the island of Crete, where they settled and continued to produce. But a couple of centuries later, in 1669, Crete itself came under Ottoman rule, and was integrated into the empire.