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The Age of Sinan:
Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire
Gülru Necipoglu
Architectural drawings and photographs of Sinan’s works by Arben N. Arapi and Reha Günay.

Winner of the 2006 Fuat Koprulu Book Prize, Turkish Studies Association
Honorable Mention for the 2005 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association

Hardcover | 2005 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691123264


During his tenure as Chief Royal Architect (1539-1588) in the "Golden Age" of the Ottoman Empire, Sinan designed hundreds of structures that helped create the renowned urban image of Istanbul, particularly mosques with seemingly weightless, light-filled centralized domes that have been compared with developments in Renaissance Italy. His distinctive architectural idiom left its imprint over a vast empire extending from the Danube to the Tigris, and he became the most celebrated of all Ottoman architects.

In this lavishly illustrated, major new assessment of Sinan's oeuvre, Gülru Necipoglu challenges standard views of Sinan as a "Turkish Michelangelo" driven solely by an insatiable urge for artistic experimentation. Her innovative analysis shows that Sinan's rich variety of mosque designs sprang from a process of negotiation between the architect and his elite patrons, both men and women. Defined though they were by social and territorial hierarchies and associated notions of identity, memory, and decorum, Sinan's mosques simultaneously shaped these conceptions. The Age of Sinan draws on a wealth of primary sources to reveal the chief architect’s monuments as bearers of previously unrecognized dimensions of meaning. A sophisticated study of the cultural and social history of Ottoman architecture, interpreting the oeuvre of a seminal figure in the early modern eastern Mediterranean world, it is must reading for scholars and students of art history and other fields with an interest in the Ottoman Empire.


"The long awaited book on Mimar Sinan by Gülru Necipoglu . . . offers a major new interpretation of his architecture that places him in the context of his time. . . . The drawings in this book are of the highest quality. . . . [T]hey show mosques in the context of their külliyes. . . . Indeed, this is one of the most comprehensively illustrated books on architecture that I have ever seen. . . . [This is] an outstanding book."--Henry Matthews, The Art Book

"The Age of Sinan is a truly comprehensive survey of the great builder's work under the patronage of several Ottoman sultans and their wealthiest subjects. The clear and elegantly written text is richly illustrated with hundreds of superb photos and architectural drawings documenting the architect's extraordinary achievement. The author's command of a vast array of both textual and visual sources is equally extraordinary. Necipoglu not only opens up whole new ways of appreciating prominent features of a major visual culture, she suggests innovative integrative categories for understanding the interplay of royal patronage, socio-political hierarchies, and religious symbolism. She has achieved a balanced and seamless melding of context and background."--John G. Renard, Religion and the Arts

"This book will stand the test of time, and much of it will not be superseded for several generations. It will not only form a new and more solid foundation for all later Sinan scholarship, but it will also shape the parameters of interpretation and discourse on classical Ottoman architecture."--Yasser Tabbaa, Art Bulletin


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File created: 3/10/2015

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