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Müfide Kadri

Müfide Kadri, Short Life of a Brilliant Female Artist

Müfide Kadri was a prominent Turkish painter during the Ottoman Empire. She was recognized for her contributions to art in the early 20th century. Despite her short life, she is recognized as the first professional Turkish female artist in a male-dominated society.

Müfide Kadri (1890-1912)

Born in 1890 in Istanbul, Müfide Kadri was a painter, composer, and teacher during the Ottoman Empire. Her mother died during her birth, and her father, Mehmet Celalettin Bey, was a respected calligrapher who early on exposed Mufide to the world of art. Unfortunately, when her father died, too, she found herself an orphan at an early age.

She was adopted by Kadri Bey, a municipality officer, and his wife. Mufide’s mother was a distant relative of Kadri Bey’s wife. A year after they adopted Müfide, Kadri Bey’s wife passed away. Although Kadri Bey remarried, he had no children from his second marriage. As a result, Müfide grew up as an only child in Kadri Bey’s house in Çamlıca, Istanbul.

Müfide Kadri

The Kadri family valued art and culture. Mufide grew up in a supportive, intellectual environment that encouraged her to pursue and foster her creative talents. Early on, she showed a natural inclination towards painting and drawing, displaying a remarkable talent for capturing the world around her with a unique perspective.

She began painting seriously at the early age of ten and took private lessons from Osman Hamdi Bey. as well as drawing and watercolors lessons from Salvatore Valeri, a Hikmet Onat, and İbrahim Çallı.

Tutors and mentors primarily homeschooled Mufide, who was taught all the liberal arts, including French, music, art, and religion. Traditional Turkish elements and 19th-century French painters like the painters of Barbizon and Corot influenced her art and compositions.

She was highly skilled as a music composer, creating music from various poems published in cultural magazines. She played piano, violin, oud, and kemenche.

Her Life Cut Short.

Mufide was appointed teacher at Numune Mektepleri and later at the girls’ school called Nümune-i İnas in Süleymaniye. At İnas Junior High School and İnas High School, she taught painting, embroidery, and music. Despite being in her early twenties, she was invited to give private painting lessons to Adile Sultan, the granddaughter of Sultan Abdulhamid II, in the palace.

In 1910, she married fellow artist Şevket Kadri. The couple welcomed two children into their lives: a son named Cemil Kadri (born in 1911) and a daughter named Dilara Kadri (born in 1912). Despite her familial responsibilities, Kadri remained dedicated to her art, balancing motherhood with her passion for painting.

Throughout her career, Müfide Kadri participated in numerous exhibitions; she presented three oil paintings and one pastel painting in the exhibition  in Beyoğlu in one of the halls assigned to the Italian society ( Istanbul Opera Society Hall ). In 1911, she had her paintings exhibited at the Munich Exhibition, where she was critically acclaimed and recognized, earning her the gold medals; sending the award home through the Ministry of Education aroused great pride.

Her still lifes, landscapes, and portraits, characterized by their vibrant colors and expressive brushwork, captivated viewers and established her reputation as a talented artist with a unique voice.

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Shortly after the exhibition held by the Istanbul Opera Society in 1911, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis; she died the following year. She passed away in 1912 at the young age of 22.

After her death in 1912, forty of her paintings were donated and sold to benefit The Ottoman Painters Society (Osmanlı Ressamlar Cemiyeti); she was buried in Karacaahmet Cemetery. Her tombstone bears an inscription by the well-known calligrapher İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer, and her life inspired the novel “Son Eseri” (Last Work) by Halide Edip Adıvar.

Kadri Bey felt so much grief that he made an Umrah to Mecca and lived there until he was forced to leave when Ottoman rule was overthrown.

Final Word.

Mufide Kadri was a rising star in the art world, mastering her technique, skill, and palette. Tragically, her promising career was cut short by the epidemic of the century, robbing us of the masterpieces she could have created.

Her works can be found in various museums and private collections in Turkey, including the Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum (İstanbul Resim ve Heykel Müzesi). This museum is dedicated to showcasing Turkish art throughout history, and it often features exhibitions of Kadri’s paintings, allowing visitors to appreciate her artistic contributions firsthand.

Sibel Meydan Johnson

Born in Turkey, Sibel Meydan Johnson lived and studied in Mons Belgium most of her life. She graduated with honors with a major in Liberal Arts. In 1990 Sibel left her hometown for New York City. She worked for several years as a production assistant for " En Plein Air Masters" one of the first online plein air artists mentor programs then as director of production for Brush With Life TV’s series on visual art. Today Sibel is an autodidact painter, Freelance writer specializing in art and the business of art. Mother and wife, she is a full-time artist. Sibel's art captures and brings forth the hidden emotion of his subjects and evoke a sense of curiosity and introspection pushing the boundaries of creativity and expression, her work often combines elements of abstraction and realism, creating a unique and captivating visual experience that sometimes disturb the viewers.

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