A Witness from the 18th Century: The Culture and Art Environment of Ottoman Cities in the Letters of Lady Montagu

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ATAK E., Atak G. A.

ART-SANAT, vol.18, pp.33-57, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/artsanat.2022.18.1065597
  • Journal Name: ART-SANAT
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.33-57
  • Keywords: Lady Montagu, Istanbul, Edirne, Ottoman Architecture, Eighteenth century
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


This article aims to analyze the architectural and artistic environment in the Ottoman cities based on the letters of Lady Mary Montagu, who came to the Ottoman capital for her husband's diplomatic mission in the early eighteenth century. For this purpose, information on the state's political relations and social structure in the years when Lady Montagu was in the Ottoman lands were presented (1717-1718). Lady Mary Montagu's letters were written differently than the pilgrims who had come to the Ottoman lands in previous years. It is seen that different kinds of subjects such as Ottoman society, women, clothing and apparel, harem, religious rituals, daily life, smallpox vaccine and architectural texture of cities were included in the letters. Thus, letters have been the subject of various studies. Lady Montagu devoted some of her letters to the architectural structures and interior decorations she observed in Istanbul and Edirne. The depictions of flowers and fruit for interior decorations of lodging and houses are some of the characteristic decorations of civil architectural works of the time. In addition, Lady Montagu's depictions from the beginning of the eighteenth century also provide information about some of the architectural works that have not survived to the present day. Martyr Ali Pasha Mansion is one of the works seen by Lady Montagu herself but not present today.