An Armenian Artist of Constantinople

Reframing Teotig's 1912 Biography of Simon Hagopian

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Hamals on the Bridge at Karaköy, painting by Simon Hagopian

Hybrid lecture by Vazken Davidian, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford.

This lecture is organized by the Armenian Studies Center of the Promise Armenian Institute and co-sponsored by the UCLA Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History and the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies.

Thursday, November 3, 2022
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (Pacific Time)

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The presentation revisits a brief biographical note of the notable, but now mainly forgotten, late Ottoman Armenian artist and art instructor Simon Hagopian (Agopian, 1857-1861) published in the 1912 edition of Teotig’s Everyone’s Almanac (Ամէնուն Տարեցոյցը) in Constantinople. Hagopian’s biography is one of dozens of artists’ biographies assembled by the husband and wife team of Teotoros Labdjindjian (1873-1928) and Arshagouhi Teotig (nee Djezvedjian, 1875-1922) for inclusion in their encyclopaedic, and very popular almanacs published annually between 1907 and 1929 – except for an interval during the period of the Armenian genocide and its immediate aftermath. Viewed as a cumulative body, Teotig’s Almanac remains a veritable compendium that provides to this day an unrivalled archive-in-print of the late Ottoman and immediate post-Ottoman Armenian experience in every conceivable field, including art and cultural history. This paper rereads Hagopian’s biography, and his obituary published in the 1922 issue of the Almanac, alongside surviving and newly re-emerging works by the artist, as well as information collated from a variety of contemporary sources. It utilises visual analysis and critical readings of texts to rethink and reframe the artist and his oeuvre within the intellectual and artistic milieu of the late Ottoman imperial capital.

Vazken Khatchig Davidian is Associate Faculty Member at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (formerly Oriental Institute), University of Oxford. He defended his doctoral thesis in art history entitled ‘Image of the Bantoukhd Hamal of Constantinople: Late Nineteenth-Century Representations of Migrant Workers from Ottoman Armenia’ at Birkbeck College, University of London in 2019. He is, with Boris Adjemian, co-Editor of the journal Études arméniennes contemporaines published by the Bibliothèque Nubar, Paris. The author of several articles, he is currently working on the monograph Art, Realism and the Politics of Social Reform: Reading Late Nineteenth-Century Visual Representations of the Armenian Hamal of Constantinople, based in part on his doctoral dissertation.

Sponsor(s): Armenian Studies Center, Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History