Duvar English / Anadolu Agency
The Istanbul Municipality on June 25 purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, at a London auction, Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has announced.
"Great news! A 15th century portrait of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror was bought by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality at a live auction in London today," İmamoğlu said on Twitter after the auction, sharing a photograph of the canvas.
"We are thrilled and cannot wait to welcome this celebrated work of art in Istanbul soon."
Great news! A 15th century portrait of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror was bought by @municipalityist at a live auction in London today. We are thrilled and cannot wait to welcome this celebrated work of art in #Istanbul soon. pic.twitter.com/mLoMYyrTm0— Ekrem İmamoğlu (International) (@imamoglu_int) June 25, 2020
According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.
Mystery surrounds as to who the figure next to Sultan Mehmed II is in the portrait.
"We don't know who this other figure is. There have been a few suggestions -- for instance, one of his three sons. But that does not seem to fit precisely how he is depicted in terms of the age that one of the sons would have been at the time," Sara Plumbly, an official at Christie's, said in an earlier interview with Anadolu Agency.
"Some others suggest he might be a European dignitary. He is sort of clean-shaven. He does not have the beard you might expect from an Ottoman man."
She pointed out that a second figure drawn on the same scale in portraits of Ottoman sultans was not common practice.
"If you have another figure, he should be either a very important person or someone from the royal family."
Mehmed II is the Ottoman sultan who conquered Istanbul and earned the title of Fatih (the Conqueror) at the age of 21 and leveled up a Turkish state into an empire.