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An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt: Yuhanna Al-Armani and His Coptic Icons
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An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt: Yuhanna Al-Armani and His Coptic Icons (Hardback)

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Synopsis

This is a unique window onto the social history of Cairo in the eighteenth century.Yuhanna al-Armani has long been known by historians of Coptic art as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and worked in Ottoman Cairo. Here for the first time is an account of his life that looks beyond his artistic production to place him firmly in the social, political, and economic milieu in which he moved and the confluence of interests that allowed him to flourish as a painter.Who was Yuhanna al-Armani? What was his network of relationships? How does this shed light on the contacts between Cairo's Coptic and Armenian communities in the eighteenth century? Why was there so much demand for his work at that particular time? And how did a member of Cairo's then relatively modest Armenian community reach such heights of artistic and creative endeavor?Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds relating to al-Armani and other members of his social network recorded in the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis offers a fascinating glimpse into the ways of life of urban dwellers in eighteenth-century Ottoman Cairo, at a time when a civilian elite had reached a high level of prominence and wealth.

Al-Armani's life and career tell us much about the immediate world to which he belonged and about the wider context of the Ottoman Empire, which constituted a vast trading area under a single juridical whole. Illustrated with 28 full-color reproductions of his icons, "An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt" is a rich and compelling window on Cairene social history that will interest students and scholars of art history, Coptic studies, or Ottoman history, as well as anyone looking to learn more about Coptic or Armenian culture in Egypt.

MAGDI GUIRGUIS is an independent researcher with a Ph.D. from Cairo University, and a specialist in Egyptian documentary sources from the Ottoman period. He is the co-author of The Emergence of the Modern Coptic Papacy, volume 3 of The Popes of Egypt (AUC Press, 2008). NELLY HANNA is a professor in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations of the American University in Cairo. She is the author or editor of a number of books on early modern Egypt, including In Praise of Books: A Cultural History of Cairo's Middle Class, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century and (with Raouf Abbas) Society and Economy in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean 1600-1900.

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