I am very grateful to the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for sponsoring my research in the Archivio di Stato in Venice and to the University of Warwick for a Postgraduate Research Scholarship.
Bellini, bronze and bombards: Sultan Mehmed II's requests reconsidered
Article first published online: 26 FEB 2014
© 2014 The Society for Renaissance Studies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Volume 28, Issue 5, pages 748–765, November 2014
How to Cite
Cevizli, A. G. (2014), Bellini, bronze and bombards: Sultan Mehmed II's requests reconsidered. Renaissance Studies, 28: 748–765. doi: 10.1111/rest.12059
- Issue published online: 19 OCT 2014
- Article first published online: 26 FEB 2014
- Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
- Mehmed II
Gentile Bellini's portrait of the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II, painted in 1480 during the artist's stay in the Ottoman capital, has become emblematic of cultural exchange between Venice and the Ottomans. However, documentary evidence suggests that the sultan was more interested in obtaining bronze founders than painters. A re-consideration of the documents of the Venetian Senate from 1479–1480 will alter the perspective from which this episode is usually viewed, giving Bellini a less central role and indicating that the contemporary mission of the bronze founder Bartolomeo Bellano was of no less importance. Mehmed's requests for bronze founders – made simultaneously to Venice and Florence – have been interpreted as a sign of Mehmed's enthusiasm for portrait medals. This explanation will be questioned and it will be argued that the sultan's interest in bronze founders extended beyond their artistic production to their knowledge of cannon technology, shedding light on Venice's refusal to send a second founder.