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A Scene from the Turkish Harem

Franz Hermann, Hans Gemminger, Valentin Mueller

Oil on canvas 130 x 193.5 cm
Second half of the 17th Century

The Austrian artists, which were in the retinue of the Embassy delegation led by Hans Ludwig von Kuefstein that Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II sent to Murad IV in 1628, depicted audiences of the delegation, the sultan and his family, various Ottoman garments and intriguing facets of daily life. This painting is possibly a part of such a series. The 1654 inscription over the painting reads, “As it is not customary for distinguished Turkish ladies to leave the house or meet strangers, they invite each other to their homes and amuse themselves with dance, comedy and similar forms of entertainment”. In the lower section of the painting, guests are greeted while women dance to the rhythm of the tambourine. In the upper section, two women are seen dancing with scarves on their heads and embroidered kerchiefs in their hands, accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments, such as rebab, santur, and tambourine. The carpets, garments and instruments are depicted in elaborate detail.