Diplomacy: America Begins Archaeology

Osman Hamdi Bey's "At the Mosque Door"

At the Mosque Door


Osman Hamdi Bey, At the Mosque Door (Cami Kapısında),
1891. Oil on canvas, 82 x 43 inches (208.5 x 109 cm) without frame

Provenance: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, 1895

Paris, Palais de l’Industrie, 1892; Chicago, World’s Columbian Exhibition, 1893; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1894-1895

Following its display in Berlin and Paris, the painting was sent to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and ultimately to Philadelphia. As part of the diplomatic efforts to secure an excavation permit, Penn purchased the painting for 6000 French francs – an enormous sum – while offering Osman Hamdi Bey an honorary doctorate. The painting features several self-portraits of Hamdi Bey, based on photographs, plus several unveiled, modern Turkish women. (UPM Archives)