By Magdi Guirguis

Yuhanna al-Armani has lengthy been recognized through historians of Coptic artwork as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and labored in Ottoman Cairo. the following for the 1st time is an account of his lifestyles that appears past his inventive creation 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 was once 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 quite modest Armenian neighborhood achieve such heights of inventive and inventive exercise? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds in terms of al-Armani and different contributors 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 whilst 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 historical past that would curiosity scholars and students of artwork background, Coptic experiences, or Ottoman history.

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Additional resources for An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Cairo: Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons

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Our protagonist, Yuhanna al-Armani, too, was involved in these privately commissioned works, and painted icons that were to be placed in individual homes. One of these was of the highly venerated saint, Dumyana. This icon eventually ended up in the Mu‘allaqa, the Hanging Church in Old Cairo. ”58 Thus, the cultural trend that had started off to fulfill the strict needs of the church or the monastery came to expand as private demand sprang up for icons for home use. One could propose, on the basis of these facts, a couple of hypotheses.

Most of the Coptic manuscripts that survive to our day date back to this late Ottoman period. 56 Another interesting development also occurred concurrently. More and more Copts were acquiring books and manuscripts for their home libraries. Again, this is a trend that was already noted to have existed among other social groups in Cairo: amirs, merchants, tradesmen, and, occasionally, craftsmen. Likewise, it appears that Copts were using the icons not only in their churches but also in their homes.

This argument has given rise to another hypothesis. On the assumption that Yuhanna al-Armani was born and raised in Jerusalem, scholars have argued that his work provided a link with artistic traditions of Syria and Palestine, and it helped to diffuse them in Egypt. The artistic traditions of Syria and Palestine were themselves influenced by Western artistic traditions. The churches of Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria) were, moreover, permeated not only by Byzantine influence, but by close and continual contacts with the Western Church.

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