From Mekteb-i Sultani to Galatasaray Lycee Painters
Garb iştiyâk-ı fikre açık bir ufuk, ve sen
Şark’ın bu ufka ilk açılan bir derîçesi!
Tevfik Fikret's famous couplet, which compares the West to a horizon beckoning to those who long for intellectual pursuits and calls Mekteb-i Sultani the East's first window opening onto that horizon, is an explicit expression of the affirmation of the notion of modernization among the Ottomans and of a hankering for Western civilization.
Opened on 1 September 1868 upon the orders of Sultan Abdülaziz, while Mekteb-i Sultani was conceived of as a training ground for bureaucrats who would staff the state's newly-designed agencies, it was thought that its students should be inculcated in the ways of international diplomacy and European culture. Among the lessons that were included in the curriculum with this idea in mind were European art and literature and it was due to their influence that major artists emerged both from Ottoman-period Mekteb-i Sultani and from Republican-period Galatasaray Lycée.