Click on the image to zoom

Portrait of Sultan Selim II
  • Accession Number:AKM219
  • Place:Istanbul, Turkey
  • Dimensions:44.2 x 31.2 cm
  • Date:1570 or 1590
  • Materials and Technique:Opaque watercolour, gold, paper

This large album portrait of Sultan Selim II (reigned 1566–74) reveals much about his reign. It was Selim’s father, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (reigned 1520–66), who solidified the geographical borders of the Ottoman Empire and refined the central administration of his government, allowing his son and successor to pursue more sedentary pleasures such as literature, art and wine-drinking. Nicknamed “Selim the Sot” for his affection for wine, the sultan was nonetheless a great bibliophile and patron of architecture, music and the arts of the book. The painter, poet and naval commander Haydar Reis depicted Selim II as larger than life; the robust sultan in his luxurious fur-lined and brocaded gold garment dwarfs both the page boy and the interior in which he sits in a cross-legged position on a carpet. This composition was one of a number of conventions for Ottoman royal portraiture developed in the 1570s and is similar to portraits in Loqman’s Kiyafetu’l Insaniye fi Semailu’l-Osmaniye, a study to record the physiognomy of the Ottoman sultans.

Note: This online resource is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. We are committed to improving this information and will revise and update knowledge about this object as it becomes available.


Get connected. Stay engaged. Sign up for the latest updates from the Aga Khan Museum