Hoca Ali Rıza
Hoca Ali Rıza was born in Üsküdar. His interest in painting developed while studying at the Kuleli Military Senior High School. In 1879, he and his schoolmates petitioned Edhem Paşa, the Minister of Military Schools, to establish a painting studio at the Ottoman Military College. Their request was accepted, and the paintings that Hoca Ali Rıza produced in the studio under the tutelage of Osman Nuri Paşa were admired by Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). He also took painting lessons from Süleyman Seyyid, one of the famous painters of the time, and Pierre Guès, Seyyid’s instructor. After graduating from the Ottoman Military College in 1883, he continued to work as a painting instructor and Osman Nuri Paşa’s assistant at the school. Around this time, it was decided that he should travel to Italy for further studies, but the cholera epidemic in Naples prevented his departure. Soon, he took his master’s place and became the head of the painting studio, training many soldier painters until his retirement in 1911. At the same time, he worked as a painting instructor for the zâdegan class at the Military College, established for the children of the ulemâ (scholars of Islamic law and jurisprudence), and at the Dârüşşafaka school for orphaned Muslim children. He also became a head painter at the Military College Printing House. Throughout his teaching career, he turned his charcoal drawings into lithographs, reproducing and printing them in albums to distribute to his students as a learning aid. After retiring, he continued to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts for Women, the Çamlıca Girls’ High School, and the Üsküdar Girls’ School of Arts. He briefly acted as chairman of the Society of Ottoman Painters, founded in 1909, and wrote articles for the society’s gazette. His first solo exhibition opened at the Eminönü Community Centre three years after his death.
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