In different periods of history, different countries have had a worldwide influence. The powerful states of the period affected many states in different ways. The spheres of influence of these dominant countries emerged in different forms, from everyday life to politics, from art to science. Here, in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most important powers of the period. For this reason, a long-lasting Turkish admiration began, especially in Western Europe! This phenomenon, called Turquerie, became a trend expressing Ottoman culture and art in Europe over time.
The reflections of the Ottoman Empire in art branches such as painting, architecture and music greatly affected the European people. On the other hand, many Ottoman traditions that were a part of daily life, especially the clothes in the Ottoman Empire, started to arouse great admiration in Europe. The Ottoman’s position as a global power, the developing commercial relations with Europe and the “authentic and mysterious” life of the Ottoman Empire caused the Turquerie movement to reach large masses in Europe. Here’s what you need to know about the Turquerie movement, which is called the peak of Turkish admiration in Europe, which has continued for nearly two centuries…
How did the Turquerie movement come about?
With the Age of Discoveries that started in the 15th century, the whole world entered a new era! The production of durable ships led to the start of geographical exploration. The pioneers of these discoveries were Europeans. With the geographical discoveries, production, consumption and trade relations all over the world gained a new look. During this period, Europeans were able to reach parts of the world that they had not been able to reach before. Thus, a much wider trade network emerged than before. At the same time, the Ottoman dominance in the Balkans was also getting stronger. In other words, the Ottomans and the Europeans were closer than ever before! Thus, the relations between the two cultures gradually strengthened. Of course, trade was the primary form of relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Europe. Many commodities from the Ottoman geography were taken to Europe by ships. However, as always, commodities were not the only element of shopping. A cultural exchange had also begun between the Ottomans and Europe.
One of the most important factors in the birth of the Turquerie movement was coffee.
Coffee, which has been a part of Ottoman culture for many years, became popular in Europe thanks to the developing trade relations. Especially among the higher classes. During their travels to the Ottoman geography, Europeans realized that coffee was not just a consumption material, but an important cultural element. Thus, they began to regulate their relations with coffee consumption as in the Ottoman Empire. Porcelain plates, embroidered napkins, cooking and consumption styles… On the other hand, this culture in the Ottoman Empire seemed extremely authentic and exotic to Europeans!
The unique and mysterious structure of Ottoman culture began to affect Europeans more.
Especially the rulers and high class in Europe had a deep admiration for the Ottoman culture. The fact that the Ottoman Empire was a world empire had a role in this, as well as the impressiveness of the Ottoman culture itself. Because many ambassadors and travelers from Europe were visiting the Ottoman Empire. During these visits, they got to know the Ottoman culture closely and were greatly influenced by this culture. Magnificent palaces, glamorous mansions, rich banquet tables, interesting instruments, colorful clothes. This was the scene that European ambassadors and travelers encountered in the Ottoman geography. Thus, the Europeans returning to their countries could not easily get rid of the effect of the scene they encountered in the Ottoman Empire. Especially the French! The close relations between the Ottoman Empire and France and the Ottoman ambassadors in Paris caused the French to be more interested in Ottoman culture.
Turkish admiration in Europe showed itself in many branches of art.
For example, many works of art with traces of Ottoman culture emerged in the field of literature. However, the most distinctive form of Ottoman culture in Europe was seen in the painting. Many European painters, especially the French, were drawing pictures that conveyed the daily life of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire was among the prominent themes of these paintings. One of the common themes of the paintings that emerged in line with the Turquerie movement was the harem. The concept of harem in the Ottoman Empire was a rather mysterious and surprising element for Europeans. In addition, many Ottoman sultans were among the characters frequently painted by European painters. Moreover, even the kings in Europe dressed like Ottoman sultans, posed, had their portraits drawn in this way! On the other hand, in the paintings made with the Turquerie movement, the technique was used together with the Ottoman theme. Drawing pictures with the techniques of calligraphy, which was a traditional art in the Ottoman Empire, was quite common in Europe.
Ottoman influence was also dominant in music and architecture.
So much so that even in opera, which can be considered the traditional art of Europe, there were traces of Ottoman culture. European opera artists often produced Ottoman-themed works to add enthusiasm, excitement and dynamism to their works. Another area where the Turquerie movement was seen was architecture. Buildings similar to those in the Ottoman Empire were being built one after another in different parts of Europe. However, the main influence of Ottoman architecture in Europe emerged in the field of decoration. The high classes in Europe started to decorate their houses just like Ottoman mansions! Turkish carpets covered the floors of the castles, and Ottoman sofas were used in the halls. In fact, many royals were competing with each other to decorate their living space as in the Ottoman Empire. The Turquerie movement influenced Western Europe’s artistic understanding as well as daily life for many years. However, with the weakening of the empire, the effect of this current began to pass slowly. Especially at the end of the 18th century, when the Ottoman Empire began to lose territory, the Turquerie movement completely lost its influence.