By Magdi Guirguis
Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been recognized by means of historians of Coptic paintings as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and labored in Ottoman Cairo. right here for the 1st time is an account of his existence that appears past his creative construction to put him firmly within the social, political, and fiscal 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 was once 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 rather a lot call for for his paintings at that individual time? and the way did a member of Cairo's then rather modest Armenian group succeed in such heights of creative and inventive pastime? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds in terms 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 whilst 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 background that might curiosity scholars and students of artwork heritage, Coptic stories, or Ottoman history.
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Additional info for An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons
The icons became dark and the paintings lost their features. Consequently, they were removed from churches and burned as fuel. The source for this piece of information is the German Dominican monk, Vansleb. Vansleb visited Egypt at the end of the seventeenth century, in 1672–73. 4 Here he mentions that icons were burned for fuel. 5 However, because the preparation of this oil was an important Church event, Coptic sources address this matter and they provide us with a more convincing explanation for it.
All these works were needed for the churches and monasteries to resume functioning properly. It was the demand for such works that created the artistic revival and the patronage of the new civilian elite that was ﬁnancing these works. Thus, we can in fact date back the revival of icon-painting to the midseventeenth century, not the mid-eighteenth century. The local context of the Armenian community in Egypt can also be explored in relation to Armenian communities elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire.
One way in which Coptic scribes manifested their newly gained visibility, especially within their religious community, was through lavish spending on religious institutions and religious festivities and ceremonies, much as other wealthy elites did. It was a way of announcing their prosperity and afﬁrming their new status within the community. Furthermore, a spirit of tolerance and coexistence spread among Egyptian Copts and Muslims during this period, for the new economic interests bound Coptic scribes to Mamluk amirs as well as to Muslim men of religion.
An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons by Magdi Guirguis