A painting by Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey entitled ‘The Lady of Istanbul’ was sold for 1,770,300 euros at an auction in Vienna. Another work of his called ‘Girl Reading the Qur’an’ from 1880 was sold for 6.3 million pounds in the last week of September at London’s Bonhams Auction House.

Shortly after that sale, the ‘Lady of Istanbul’ was offered for sale at an auction hall at the Dorotheum Art Gallery in Vienna. Going on sale at a base price of 1.1 million euros, an anonymous art-lover purchased the 19th century painting by Osman Hamdi Bey for a net price of 1.5 million euros.

According to news channel NTV, art gallery’s spokesperson Doris Krumpl said the painting was the most expensive art work sold in 2019 and that the total cost of the painting would be 1,770,300 euros once commission and taxes are added.


A day before, a London-based auction house Sotheby’s had offered the ‘Qur’an Lesson at the Green Mosque’ by Osman Hamdi Bey as part of the ‘Important Works from the Najd Collection’. The 129-year old painting found a buyer at a price of 4.6 million pounds. Another work by Osman Hamdi called ‘Reading Young Emir’ that Sotheby’s Auction house will be offering soon is expected to reach a price between 3 and 5 million pounds.


The artist behind these paintings, Osman Hamdi Bey was also the first mayor of the district of Kadıköy district and the founder of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Museum as well as of Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum. An archaeologist by profession, Osman Hamdi spent most of his life conducting excavations and even uncovered what is believed to be the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Appointed as director of the Archeology Museum, Osman Hamdi Bey passed articles to prevent artifacts from being shipped abroad. Osman Hamdi passed away on 24 February 1910 and as he used to hand out his paintings, the number of his known is less than 100.


Paintings by Osman Hamdi Bey entitled “Hodja Reading the Qur’an” “Scrievener, “Mosque”, “Kokona Despina and Naile Hanım’s Portrait” are on display at the Sabancı Museum. Osman Hamdi’s most famous work, “The Tortoise Trainer” is also open to public at the Pera Museum. Turkish businessman Mustafa Taviloğlu owns a painter by the artist called “Two Young Girls Visiting a Shrine” and the philanthropist Kadir Has bought another painting Hamdi entitled “Women Putting on Burqa”.