The formation of Turkish painting, starting from mid 19th century till the beginning of the 20th century, can be said to be very active. The very first painters who formed the art milieu were from military and civilian schools. Some were educated abroad. A Christian minority and “Levantine” artists as well as European painters living in Istanbul, influenced the art milieu. The School of Fine Arts was opened with Osman Hamdi Bey’s attempts in 1883, and also thanks to him, depiction of human figure was established. Turkish painting developed through different trends.. The first “nudes” appeared with the “1914 generation”. School of Fine Arts for Girls was opened at that period. Young artists sent to Europe came back inspired by contemporary trends such as Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and by the different forms of non-figurative art which led to two new trends, the “Independent Painters and Sculptors Association” and later the “Group D”. A reaction appeared against the western tendencies during the 1940s: the notions that first came forward was originality, regionalism and nationalism. Artists revive themes taken from rural life, and motives are inspired from folk art, calligraphy and miniature painting. From the 1960s on, the Turkish painting which gained great mobility with many artists with different styles is advancing towards a promising future. During the last twenty years, numerous art galeries have opened attracting a large public of connoisseurs and collectors.

Turgut Zaim “Mother and her Children”

Ibrahim Çalli “Warriors during the War of Inependance”

Paper Marble is a traditional and abstract Turkish art called Ebru which originates from Central Asia.
The technique uses paint with colors floating and expanding at the surface of the water in a deep tray.


The Ottoman Turks developed the art of ceramics, tiles and china, inspired by the Far-East countries. They created a beautiful decorative style of ceramic tiles for the purpose of decorating walls. Iznik (Nicea) was the largest tile production center (in the 17th Century there were up to 340 workshops there).

16th century Iznik tiles
Takkeci Mosque -Istanbul

Late 16th century
polychrome Iznik mug

   First half of the 19th century
          Kütahya jar

Nowadays copies of ancients are successfully reproduced as well as new original pieces of high quality in both Iznik and Kütahya. Avanos, in Cappadocia, has become an important pottery center.


For centuries carpets have been used in the countries of the Orient, and have always been held in high consideration.

Their making started among the nomads from Asia: rolled and carried without difficulty, carpets are an  integral part of their life.

The history of knotted carpets in Islamic Turkey dates back to the conquest of the Seldjuks. Some samples from the 12th Century put Konya at the head of the Anatolian cities. They are decorated with stars, lozenges, geometric ornaments, birds, dragons. Islamic culture deeply influenced the history of the carpets. The Ottomans strictly conforming to Sunni practices, they forbid the depiction of human beings, even imaginary. Decoration is limited to geometric figures, stylized flowers and trees, prayer niches.

From the 16th Century on, the range of motives spreads and now includes spirals, clouds, rosettes and palmettes. At the time, Usak was the main production center. Arabesques forming a succession of lozenges, zigzags, interlaces are very characteristic of these short-pile carpets.

For centuries carpet weaving has been women’s art.They start when they are very young, the skill of their thin fingers allowing them to work fast. This tradition is still beeing perpetuated in many villages of Turkey.

The particularity of the Turkish carpets lies in the knot used: the Turkish knot called Gördčs.

old Usak carpet

old Ladik prayer carpet

countrygirls weaving a carpet

Scene of a carpet bazaar by an Orientalist painter

Kariye Pasha Carpet shop near Chora Museum/Kariye/Istanbul

Scene of a carpet bazaar by an
Orientalist painter

Bergama carpets are of a different style and can be divided in two main groups: Kozak type with big geometrical designs, and Turkish type which designs are very floral. Their wool pile is thick and shiny with bright colours (red,blue).

Milas carpets are historically very reputed, above all prayer rugs. Their colours are rather light with large and simple decorations, and the mirhab (prayer niche) has an unusual shape elongated terminating in a lozenge.

Gördes carpets
: the Turkish knot originates from Gördes, a place located in the Aegean region near Manisa.

Kula carpets resemble those of Gördes and Usak. They have strong geometric designs which can vary in patterns, and wide borders decorated with little stars and flowers. Their colours are rich but soft. They have a short and lusty pile and are very elegant.

Ladik carpets: Ladik and Konya are the oldest carpet making centers in Turkey because Konya was the capital of the Seljuk empire. Stylized floral motives are used and colours are vivid and well matched.

Kayseri carpets are often in floral designs with colours of white, cream, light and dark brown. They are made of cotton and wool or of pure silk. Another type is called Bunyan with many more colours used.

Yahyali carpets made in the vicinity of Kayseri are very popular. A rich red with indigo coloroured blue is used. The main ornemental motif of the field is the hexagon which is similar to those of the Yörük carpets, but they have a border with stylised flowers of brillant shades of yellow and gold.

Hereke carpets are produced near Istanbul and are woven in cotton, wool or silk with traditionnal floral designs. In the 19th Century the workshops worked for the sultans, and a great number of carpets were sent as an imperial tribute to all the crowned heads of Europe. The dominant colours are dark blue, cream and cinnamon and occasionnally yellow and green.

Yörük carpets are made by nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes and are mostly produced in the mountainous regions. They are finely shaded due to the vegetal rich colours used. The predominant patterns are geometric motives with stylised animals and flowers.

Kars carpets are woven in the highland regions in the Caucasian style, and are among the rarest carpets. The wool pile is thick with cruciform designs and stylised trees, and have navy blue, red and cream colours.