29 July 2015
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Pera Museum invites artist Benoît Hamet to reinterpret key pieces from its collections, casting a humourous eye over ‘historical’ events, both imagined and factual. Each month we will witness an episode from the visit of Yusuf Agah Efendi, the first ambassador of the Ottoman State to England. Passing through Austria, Germany, and Belgium, his delegation arrived in England by way of sea in 1793. Ambassador during the reign of the Mad King George III, we imagine just what might have happened during formal occasions as two vastly different cultures met.
This month Hamet’s drawing focuses on an actual event which took place when Yusuf Agah visited the Covent Garden Theatre just before New Year’s Eve in 1793. The ambassador and his retinue were well entertained by the tricks performed in the Christmas pantomime Harlequin Faustus. However, the performance was rudely interrupted when someone in the audience (seated at the cheap, two-shilling gallery) threw a live dog on the stage. Hamet has here playfully depicted the dog as a French bulldog.
On the royal balcony in the middle, we can see Yusuf Agah and his retinue, flanked by William Pitt and his habitual glass of port, the Princes, the Queen and the Mad King, wearing a paper sailboat (“Rule, Brittania!”) as a hat. See who else you can spot in the rowdy audience!
Benoît Hamet was born in 1984 in France. He completed his Bachelor and Master’s degrees at the European School of Visual Arts Angoulême/Poitiers. He spent one year of his Master’s degree on an Erasmus scholarship at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna. He continued working in Angoulême following graduation and illustrated for a variety of French publishers. He currently lives and works in Istanbul.
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