Hüseyin Zekâî Paşa
Hüseyin Zekâî Paşa, the son of İbrahim Efendi, a Tax Office clerk, was born in Üsküdar. After attending the Military Secondary School and the Kuleli Military Senior High School, he enrolled in the Ottoman Military College. In 1879, along with several schoolmates, he petitioned to establish a painting studio at the college. Their request was accepted, and they began to study under the painter Osman Nuri Paşa. The paintings that Hüseyin Zekâî Paşa and Hoca Ali Rıza produced in this studio were greatly admired by Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). In addition to Osman Nuri Paşa and Süleyman Seyyid, he must have also taken lessons from Pierre Guès, a French national who was one of the foreign painting instructors at the Military College. While he was still a student, he was appointed as the assistant to Şeker Ahmed Paşa, the head aide-de-camp at the palace. During the thirty years of his life spent at the Yıldız Palace, he took part in the preparation of photo albums for Abdülhamid II and was chairman of the photography committee. He also painted illustrations on porcelains produced at the Yıldız Porcelain Factory and worked towards establishing the military museum at the palace. Following Şeker Ahmed Paşa’s death in 1907, he took over as the Master of Ceremonies for Foreign Guests and became the official court painter. In 1913, he published a book titled Mübeccel Hazineler (Esteemed Treasures), in which he discussed architectural and archaeological monuments in Ottoman lands and their art historical significance, and encouraged the relevant individuals and institutions to take the necessary steps for their preservation. This book is among the first printed art historical works in the Ottoman Empire.
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