Portraits of Empires
Habsburg Albums from the German House in Ottoman Constantinople
Published by: Indiana University Press
In the late 16th century, hundreds of travelers made their way to the Habsburg ambassador's residence, known as the German House, in Constantinople. In this centrally located inn, subjects of the emperor found food, wine, shelter, and good company—and left an incredible collection of albums filled with images, messages, decorated papers, and more.
Portraits of Empires offers a complete account of this early form of social media, which had a profound impact on later European iconography. Revealing a vibrant transimperial culture as viewed from all walks of life—Muslim and Christian, noble and servant, scholar and stable boy—the pocket-sized albums containing these curiosities have never been fully connected to the abundant archival records on the German House and its residents. Robyn Dora Radway not only introduces these objects, the people who filled their pages, and the house at the center of their creation, but she also presents several arguments regarding chronologies of exchange, workshop practices, the curation of social networks and visual collections based on status, and the purposes of these highly individualized material portraits.
Featuring 162 fascinating color images, Portraits of Empires reconstructs the world of Habsburg subjects living in Ottoman Constantinople using a rich and distinctive set of objects to raise questions about imperial belonging and the artistic practices used to articulate it.
Note on Translation and Transliteration
List of Abbreviations
1. The German House in Constantinople
2. Making Albums in the German House
6. Noble Men Passing Through
Appendix: Albums of the German House in Constantinople
"The wealth of precise and new historical information in this study is truly impressive. Radway manages to concretize these albums for us, providing invaluable archival and historical information that helps us fully understand them."~Emine Fetvaci, author of The Album of the World Emperor: Cross-Cultural Collecting and the Art of Album Making in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul
"With the Alba amicorum from the German house in Constantinople, Robyn Radway has discovered a treasure trove of historical material that offers stunning insights into not only the symbolic world of the Ottoman empire and its material culture of book making, but also the networking practices of German travellers. An incredibly rich book filled to the brim with marvellous illustrations."~Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger, Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin.
"Robyn Dora Radway's book is an important contribution to the cultural history of Early Modern Europe. Brimming with erudtion, copiously illustrated, and engagingly written, it illuminates multiple aspects of a hitherto obscure but significant site, the Central European residence in Ottoman Istabul. Assembling a wide range of both visual and textual material, it demonstrates a wide range of inter- and intra-imperial interchanges that existed but have been overshadowed by histories of conflict and antagonisms."~Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Frederick Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University