"Two Nightingales in a Rose Bush", Double-Sided Illustrated Leaf from an Ottoman Album

'Abdullah Bukhari

Not on view

The lead characters in this work are likely the "rose and the nightingale", symbolizing the "loved and beloved one", which together were popular subjects of love poetry used by Ottoman poets between the 15th through the 18th century. Other flowers, such as carnations, honeysuckles, and hyacinths, or tulips—such as depicted here on the verso—also played roles in such poetry.

The pictorial style, with close attention given to details with flowers and birds rendered in a rather realistic style, combined with pronounced green spiky leaves, is characteristic of the painting style developing in Istanbul beginning in the 1720s. Signed by ‘Abdullah Bukhari (active ca. 1725–50s), one of the great painters of eighteenth-century Ottoman Istanbul, who mainly painted scenes for collectors’ albums, such as this one.

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