An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and by Magdi Guirguis

By Magdi Guirguis

Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been identified by means of historians of Coptic artwork as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and labored in Ottoman Cairo. right here for the 1st time is an account of his existence that appears past his inventive construction to put him firmly within the social, political, and financial milieu within which he moved and the confluence of pursuits that allowed him to flourish as a painter.
Who used to be Yuhanna al-Armani? What used to be his community of relationships? How does this make clear the contacts among Cairo's Coptic and Armenian groups within the eighteenth century? Why used to be there lots call for for his paintings at that individual time? and the way did a member of Cairo's then fairly modest Armenian neighborhood succeed in such heights of inventive and inventive pastime? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds in terms of al-Armani and different participants of his social community recorded within the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis deals a desirable glimpse into the methods of lifetime of city dwellers in eighteenth-century Cairo, at a time while a civilian elite had reached a excessive point of prominence and wealth. Illustrated with 28 full-color reproductions of al-Armani's icons, An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt is a wealthy and compelling window on Cairene social background that might curiosity scholars and students of paintings heritage, Coptic reviews, or Ottoman history.

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3 This holy oil, an important part of the rituals of the Coptic Church, is used during the baptism, a ritual which is considered to be one of the seven sacraments of the Church, much in the same way as it is in other Orthodox churches. During this ritual, the oil was spread on the baptized person in a symbolic act to keep away evil spirits. The claim that icons were burned to make this oil was based on an argument that old icons were worn out by years of smoke coming from the candles that were lit in front of them.

Indd 38 I C O N - PA I N T I N G I N E I G H T E E N T H - C E N T U RY E G Y P T 3/11/08 9:04:34 AM 3 Egyptian Icons before Yuhanna al-Armani Y uhanna al-Armani’s ubiquitous works were part of a broader revival in icon production in Egypt, one that, it could be argued, preceded Yuhanna himself. In fact, the revival in icon-painting that Egypt witnessed since the mid-seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth is closely tied to the movement of restoring, conserving and—though more rarely—establishing churches and monasteries throughout the country.

61 Yuhanna al-Armani could therefore draw upon the work of many icon-painters who were active before his time. Likewise, before Yuhanna’s lifetime we could trace another source of inspiration for icon-painters, notably in the illustrations that can be found in manuscripts. indd 45 45 3/11/08 9:04:34 AM stories of Christ, biblical stories, and stories of saints and martyrs. Among the many examples of illustrations in manuscripts are those that contain the paintings by members of the Abu al-Mina family of priests, to whom Suryal Abu al-Mina al-Musawwir belonged.

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