Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Illustrator of the Galata Canavari/Monster of Galata, article on Petri the Knifer in R. E. Kocu's Istanbul Encyclopedia

SABiHA RÜŞTÜ BOZCALI (b. istanbul 1903- d. Istanbul 1987)

Sabiha Rüştü was the daughter of Rüştü Pasha and the granddaughter of Memduh Pasha, a former Minister of the Interior. She was born in Istanbul. In those days girls never went to school, normally receiving their education from private tutors, but with the help of her uncle. Sabiha Rüştü managed to go to Italy and study to Rome, making copies of the works in the Vatican collection in order to be able to afford lessons from a famous teacher. During the Armistice period after the end of the First World War she worked in the Haiman studio in Berlin, and then studied for three year in the Munich Academy. She also worked for a year together with Namık İsmail in the Corinth studio. She contributed works to the Galatasaray exhibitions of 1922 and 1923, but these consisted entirely of sketches. She revealed herself as having a fine command of line in the style of the Western masters. “Design is the basis of all painting”.

After her return from Europe she spent the years 1926-1928 continuing to paint in her old friend Namık Ismail’s studio in the Academy of Fine Arts. At the same time she regularly contributed works to the annual exhibitions in the Galatasaray Lycee. Many years passed by in this way. As a painter she gave great importance to mirroring truth and reality in everything she painted. She visited Paris and Rome, and in 1931 she worked in Paris with the pointillist painter Paul Signac. During her three years stay in Paris she painted portraits of Signac’s wife and daughter. She was particularly successful in three types of painting: landscapes, flowers and portraits. She converted the stable of her villa at Kireçburnu into a studio and produced very large-scale paintings there. In 1 947-1949 she worked in Rome with Severini, Massimo Cam pigli, De Pisis and the founder of modern Italian painting, De Chirico.

Sabiha Bozcalı, was at the same time a highly accomplished illustrator, and for twenty-five years she contributed illustrations to the newspapers. She also illustrated works such as Nezihe Araz’s Anatolian Saints (Anadolu Evliyaları), and Yunus Emre, and made a number of designs and sketches for the Istanbul Encyclopedia edited by Reşat Ekrem Koçu.

EXHIBIT  | Painter Sabiha Rüştü Bozcalı December 22, 2015 – March 6, 2016 SALT Galata, Bankalar Caddesi No. 11, Karaköy  


This exhibition explored the artistic career of the painter Sabiha Rüştü Bozcalı (1904–1998), a relatively unknown artist who lived through the transition of the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic and is now considered a key figure in the cultural history of Turkey. The exhibition will feature her drawings and paintings, as well as photographs, letters, postcards and the various publications she contributed to. Many of these works and documents were donated to SALT Research in 2014.

Bozcalı, who was born into a privileged diplomatic family, began painting at the age of five with her mother’s encouragement and was first tutored by Ali Sami Boyar, a painter and museum director. At the young age of 15, Bozcalı went to study abroad in Berlin, Munich, Paris and Rome, working in the studios of prominent painters such as Lovis Corinth, Moritz Heymann, Karl Caspar, Paul Signac and Giorgio de Chirico. She then attended the studio of Namık İsmail at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul between 1928–1929, where her portraits aroused the most serious interest.
Between 1938–1943, during the early years of the Republic, Bozcalı took part in the government program ‘Yurt Gezileri’ (Trips to Homeland), organized by the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (People’s Republican Party) and Halkevleri (People’s Centers). The aim of this program was to document the process of modernisation and the creation and implementation of a new cultural identity across Turkey. In this scheme Bozcalı was officially sent to Zonguldak in 1939 to paint aspects of industrial development. She also contributed to the visual language used in advertising and publishing during this period with her drawings for important institutions such as Yapı Kredi Bank and the İnhisarlar İdaresi (Directorate of Monopolies), which changed its name to TEKEL in 1946. After 1953, Bozcalı started to work as a newspaper illustrator for various dailies and was one of the principle illustrators of historian Reşad Ekrem Koçu’s İstanbul Ansiklopedisi(Istanbul Encyclopedia).

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