Melek's Life and Times

1835 | On the path to the Tanzimat Edict.
Before the nineteenth century, the educational opportunities available to women in the Ottoman Empire are limited. While there are mentions of women working at home for commercial employers as early as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the expansion of capitalism in the 1800s results in a more widespread adoption of such labour. Activities such as knitting, lacework, and embroidery constitute some of the most common forms of home-based labour for women at this time, albeit typically associated with lower wages.

1839 | Sultan Abdülmecid ascends the throne, and the Tanzimat Edict is declared. 
Following the death of his father, Mahmud II, Sultan Abdülmecid takes the throne on 2 July.
On 3 November, the Tanzimat Edict is declared, introducing reforms aimed at reorganising and improving civil administration. This edict is among the documents that constitute the legal foundation of Westernisation in the Ottoman Empire. Western institutions are taken as models for education in the military, state administration, medicine, and engineering, while European forms and values are regarded as ideal examples in architecture and the fine arts.
The Tanzimat era significantly impacts the visibility of Ottoman women in social life and their education in state institutions. While up until this point, only girls from upper-class families are able to receive private schooling in their residences, their education becomes more comprehensive with the reforms implemented in state schools. In the transformative process that the Empire is undergoing at this time, the necessity of women’s education is justified, as in Western examples, with the aim of raising beneficial members of society and improving their roles as wives and mothers.

1843 | Women begin receiving midwifery training. 
The initiation of two-year midwifery courses within the Imperial School of Medicine marks a significant advancement in women’s professional education, lending it institutional credibility. At the conclusion of the first course, ten Muslim and twenty-six Christian women successfully graduate as midwives.

1845 | The Council for Public Education is established.
During his visit to the Sublime Porte, Sultan Abdülmecid observes that none of the reforms, apart from those in the military, have reached the desired level. To remedy the situation, he calls for the establishment of educational institutions. A Provisional Council is convened, setting out the principal guidelines for the educational reform programme before giving way to the Council for Public Education.

1856 | The Imperial Reform Edict is declared.
Sultan Abdülmecid issues the Imperial Reform Edict on 18 February, facilitating the incorporation of nineteenth-century values into the Ottoman state structure and initiating the process of granting Muslim and non-Muslim citizens equal status under the law.
The Edict places a strong emphasis on education, mandating that schools be accessible to everyone and permitting communities to establish educational institutions aligned with their own cultural and linguistic traditions, which leads to an increase in the number of schools. Additionally, the Edict brings all school curricula and teachers under the regulatory oversight of the Council for Public Education. The growing number of schools, coupled with the fact that male instructors are in charge of giving sewing and embroidery courses, underscores the need for establishing a dedicated teacher training school for women.

1857 | The Ottoman School is founded in Paris.
The Ottoman School is established in Paris to ease the integration of Ottoman students being educated in France. While placing a strong emphasis on language instruction, the school’s curriculum also covers mathematics, sciences, history, geography, literature, and art. Due to the Franco-Prussian War, the Ottoman School would cease operations in 1871. 

1858 | The first girls’ middle school is established.
The first girls’ middle school is established in Sultanahmet. This institution represents a significant milestone in enhancing women’s engagement in public life. Nonetheless, these girls’ schools trail behind their counterparts for males, in terms of faculty and curricula. At this juncture, the predominantly Istanbul-based girls’ middle schools are insufficient in number to meet existing needs.

1861 | Sultan Abdülaziz ascends the throne. 
Upon the death of Sultan Abdülmecid, his brother Sultan Abdülaziz ascends the throne. His keen interest in the art of painting and his own practice as a painter play a significant role in revitalising the Ottoman art scene during his reign.

1862 | The second generation of soldier painters are sent to Paris for an education in painting. The poet Nigâr Hanım is born.
Şeker Ahmed Paşa and Süleyman Seyyid, both belonging to the second generation of soldier painters, are sent to Paris in 1862 to receive an education in painting. First, they complete their language training at the Ottoman School. They then audit their art lessons at the École des Beaux-Arts without official enrolment, since the school only accepts French nationals at the time. 
The poet Nigâr Hanım, an important role model for the women of her time, is born. In an age where female authors are rare and those who are active often conceal their identities behind male pseudonyms, Nigâr Hanım produces European-style works, expressing her emotions with authenticity and sincerity under her real identity.

1863 | The Ottoman Exposition takes place. 
The first World’s Fair is hosted by the United Kingdom in 1851. The Ottoman Empire participates in the exhibition, held at the Crystal Palace in London, by showcasing its agricultural and industrial products. Following the success of this event and building upon the burgeoning tradition of world fairs, a decision is made to organise a ‘universal exhibition’ in Istanbul. The Ottoman Exposition, born out of a vision to advance Ottoman industry and production, coincides with the early period of Sultan Abdülaziz’s rule. Held in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet Square, this exhibition symbolises the empire’s ambition to integrate with the modern world, serving as a catalyst for significant growth in commercial and touristic activity.

1868 | The social status of women starts being reflected in the press.
Ali Râşid Efendi and Filip Efendi launch the inaugural edition of the Terakki newspaper, which includes articles advocating for women’s rights and freedoms. The following year, they introduce a weekly supplement called Terakki-i Muhadderat, marking the first publication curated explicitly for women. This supplement features short pieces and stories centred on women’s education and domestic roles, as well as regularly publishing letters from female readers.

1869 | The first trade school for girls is established.
The Yedikule Trade School for Girls, the first vocational school for women, is established. Comparable to vocational high schools for girls today, these institutions offer a seven-year curriculum, comprising ‘primary’ and ‘intermediate’ levels. The aim is to improve women’s handicraft skills and generate economic gain. Subsequently, three additional girls’ trade schools are founded: in Üsküdar in 1878, and Aksaray and Cağaloğlu in 1879.

1870 | The Dârülmuallimât [Teacher Training School for Girls] is established.
In response to a need outlined in the 1869 Regulations on Public Education, the Dârülmuallimât [Teacher Training School for Girls] is established in 1870 with the purpose of training female teachers for primary and middle schools. Although the official reason for founding the school is to provide women with the same educational opportunities as men, the Minister of Education, Saffet Paşa, underscores the pivotal role of mothers in children’s education during his speech at the school’s opening. He emphasises the necessity for female teachers to educate young girls, thereby prioritising the establishment of schools dedicated to training female teachers. 

1869 - 1872 | The Imperial Museum is established. 
In 1869, the first museum of the Ottoman Empire, the Imperial Museum, is established. A selection of archaeological artefacts, previously housed in the Hagia Eirene Church, is relocated to the Tiled Pavilion (now part of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums). Edward Goold and Pio Francesco Carlo Terenzio serve as the museum’s first directors.

1873 | The Dârülmuallimât celebrates its first cohort of graduates.
The Dârülmuallimât, which admitted thirty-two students through a competitive exam in 1870, celebrates its inaugural class of graduates. A number of these graduates are subsequently appointed as educators at the Middle School for Girls, thus becoming the first group of women to serve as professionally trained teachers with qualifications extending beyond sewing and embroidery instruction. During the 1881-1882 academic year, Fatma Zehra Hanım assumes the role of head of the Dârülmuallimât, making her the first woman to hold a leadership role within a school setting.

1873-1875 | Şeker Ahmed Paşa organises painting exhibitions in Istanbul.
Returning to Istanbul from Paris in 1871, Şeker Ahmed Paşa organises the first public painting exhibition of the Ottoman Empire in 1873 at the Sultanahmet Trade School, echoing the esteemed Paris Salon Exhibitions. A second exhibition takes place in 1875 at the Dârülfünûn (today, the Istanbul University) under the auspices of Sultan Abdülaziz. The 1873 exhibition features students from the Imperial School of Medicine and the Imperial High School alongside drawings by Şeker Ahmed Paşa’s own pupils. These exhibitions, an integral part of state-sponsored education, reveal the intentions of their organisers regarding modern Ottoman art.
Şeker Ahmed Paşa’s success in the 1873 exhibition wins him the appreciation of Sultan Abdülaziz, and he is soon appointed aide-de-camp. In his new role, he acquires new works of art for the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1875-1876. Through Adolphe Goupil, an important gallery owner of the time and the father-in-law of Şeker Ahmed Paşa’s teacher Gérôme, he amasses the first imperial collection of paintings for the Dolmabahçe Palace, including works by Gustave Boulanger, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

1876-1878 | Abdülhamid II ascends the throne, and the First Constitutional Period is declared. 
Following the death of Sultan Abdülaziz, his nephew Murad V ascends the throne. However, he is forced to step down by the Council of Ministers after only ninety-three days, his health being cited as an excuse, and is replaced on the throne by his brother, Abdülhamid II. With support from reformists, the First Constitution is enacted on 23 December 1876, initiating the First Constitutional Period. This era is brief, as the parliament is disbanded on 13 February 1878, leading to a thirty-year intermission before the advent of the Second Constitutional Period in 1908.

1881-1883 | The School of Fine Arts is established. 
With the passing in 1881 of Philipp Anton Dethier, the German director of the Imperial Museum, Osman Hamdi Bey is appointed to the position. 
The School of Fine Arts, the first state institution dedicated to the field, is established on 2 January 1882, and instruction commences within the Imperial Museum on 2 March 1883. The faculty boasts notable figures such as the architect Alexandre Vallaury; Salvatore Valeri, who teaches oil painting; Joseph Warnia-Zarzecki, who instructs in pencil drawing; Yervant Osgan Efendi, in charge of sculpture; Aristoklis Efendi, who covers art history; Hasan Fuad Bey, who teaches mathematics, Yusuf Rami Efendi, who teaches anatomy, and Monsieur Napier, who leads the engraving classes. Osman Hamdi Bey serves as headmaster of the school. This seminal institution would evolve into the Academy of Fine Arts in 1928 and be elevated to university status in 1982, now bearing the name Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.

1889 | The foundations of the Committee of Union and Progress are laid.
The foundations of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which for a considerable time encompasses various oppositional elements of the Young Turks movement, are laid by four students from the Imperial School of Medicine on 2 June 1889. The CUP embraces the fundamental principles of the French Revolution – liberty, equality, and fraternity – as their political philosophy. They extend their local and original initiatives by adding justice as a crucial fourth tenet, thus advancing beyond the revolution that served as their inspiration. Perceiving the state not as a privilege granted by God to a single dynasty, but as an institution created by the free will of the people, the CUP advocates for the end of absolute monarchy, the preservation of the Ottoman Empire’s ideology and territorial integrity, and the assurance of unity among all religious communities within the empire. 

1895 | A directive concerning the Dârülmuallimât is published.
Despite the rise in the number of schools, there is growing religious backlash in the field of education. A directive issued in 1895 forbids the presence of female and male teachers in the same location, even prohibiting them from seeing each other.

1896 | Melek Ziya is born.
Fatma Melek, the only daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Abdurrahman Ziya Bey and Naciye Hanım, is born on 2 April 1896, corresponding to 20 March 1312 in the Rumi calendar. At a time when women are increasingly advocating for their standing in Ottoman society and positioned uniquely by virtue of her family’s affluence and educational status, Melek Ziya is afforded a quality education at home.

1901 | The first Istanbul Salon Exhibition takes place. 
The first Istanbul Salon Exhibition opens in the Passage Oriental in Beyoğlu, a collaboration spearheaded by Alexandre Vallaury, an architecture instructor at the School of Fine Arts, and Régis Delbeuf, editor of the French-language newspaper Stamboul. The exhibition showcases masterpieces of esteemed artists such as Osman Hamdi Bey, Şeker Ahmed Paşa, Halil Paşa, Salvatore Valeri, and Fausto Zonaro, establishing a tradition that would persist in the following years.

1906-1914 | Melek Ziya’s youth.
Melek’s formative years unfold against the backdrop of Sultan Abdulhamid II’s dwindling authoritarian rule and the tumultuous transition towards the Second Constitutional Era. During this period, her education, confined to the home as was the case for young women of affluent backgrounds at this time, is complemented by her engagement with the global community through ‘Libre-Échange,’ a network for exchanging postcards. Moreover, her correspondence with and collection of signatures from esteemed painters, sculptors, poets, and musicians she admires, indicate young Melek’s burgeoning interest in the arts.

1908 | Parliament reconvenes and the Second Constitutional Period is proclaimed.
The central demand of the Young Turk movement, which has been gaining momentum since 1895, is the reimplementation of the Constitution. The ulama (scholars of Islamic jurisprudence) aligned with the Young Turks advocate for the compatibility of the constitutional regime with religious law, supporting a blend of progressive governance and religious principles.
Following the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, uprisings sparked by demands for independence in the Balkan provinces under Ottoman rule reach a crisis point for the Ottoman Empire and Europe. When the soldiers in the Committee of Union and Progress refuse to suppress the rebellion in Macedonia, Sultan Abdülhamid II is forced to reinstate the Constitution on 24 July. With the reconvening of parliament, the Second Constitutional Period begins. This era witnesses a surge in innovative movements, an increase in the number of magazines and newspapers, and new developments in the arts.
Following the declaration of the Second Constitutional Period, Western arts and science take priority on the agenda. Students with limited means wishing to study art in Europe have the opportunity to take the scholarship examinations organised by the Academy of Fine Arts, or to be supported by various patrons.
This period of significant educational reforms also witnesses the birth of the women’s movement. A fundamental idea of the Westernisation project during the Second Constitutional Period is the increasing participation of women in public spaces, their presence in urban areas, and their enhanced social visibility.

1909-1913 | The Society of Ottoman Painters and the first women’s societies are established. 
The Society of Ottoman Painters is founded in 1909 under the auspices of Prince Abdülmecid Efendi, marking a pivotal moment in the history of Ottoman painting. Regarded as one of the first steps in acknowledging painting as a legitimate profession within Turkish art history, the Society is predominantly formed by students from the Academy of Fine Arts, who would come to be recognised as the ‘1914 Generation.’ Through its publication, the Journal of the Society of Ottoman Painters, published in eighteen editions from 1911 to 1914, the group summarises its mission as ‘The advancement of painting as a profession in Ottoman lands, and the unification of Ottoman painters on the basis of securing their future.’
In 1911, the first secondary school for girls is established, renamed the High School for Girls in 1913.
The Committee of Union and Progress, which includes a women’s branch, supports women’s rights and their presence in public life. The Turkish Hearths, established in Istanbul in 1912 around the idea of ‘Turkism’ and closely associated with the Committee of Union and Progress, frequently emphasise the need for women’s representation in society. During this time, various associations and organisations are founded in major cities with the purpose of protecting and advocating for women’s rights.

1912 | The Balkan War begins.
Women’s voluntary service as nurses during the Balkan War of 1912-1913 is a significant factor contributing to their increased visibility.

1913 | Primary education becomes compulsory. The Society for the Defense of Women’s Rights is established, and the first issue of the magazine Kadınlar Dünyası [Women’s World] is published.
In 1913, under the stewardship of Emrullah Efendi, the first educator to serve as the Minister of Education, the Provisional Law on Primary Education is enacted, marking the first consistent and systematic approach to educational legislation. The law mandates primary education as both compulsory and free, extending its duration to six years, and establishing it as a state-run enterprise.
Simultaneously, the Society for the Defence of Women’s Rights comes into existence. Nuriye Ulviye Mevlan presides over the society, which launches its official magazine, Kadınlar Dünyası [Women’s World], on 17 April. Serving as the voice of the independent women’s movement, the publication becomes a pivotal medium in advocating for women’s rights.

1914 | The First World War begins. The Women’s University and the School of Fine Arts for Women are established.
On 28 July 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo. After mutual ultimatums, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, and the First World War begins. The Ottoman Empire also joins the war, allied with Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria. Against the backdrop of the Balkan Wars and the First World War, Ottoman women step into the workforce to bridge the labour shortage caused by the conscription of men.
With the outbreak of war, İbrahim Çallı, Feyhaman Duran, Namık İsmail, Hikmet Onat, and Nazmi Ziya, who had been in Paris since the declaration of the Second Constitutional Period, are forced to return home. Referred to as the ‘1914 Generation’ due to these extenuating circumstances, these artists occupy a crucial position in developing art education and fostering an artistic environment in the country.
The rise in girls’ schools and a heightened focus on education clear a path for the entrance of women into higher education. On 5 February, the Dârülfünûn (today the Istanbul University) initiates ‘exclusive free courses for women’ four days a week. The enthusiastic response to these courses culminates in the establishment of the Women’s University on 12 September, located in a building within the Teacher Training School for Girls and staffed with dedicated educators.
Subsequently, on 14 November, the School of Fine Arts for Women commences its curriculum within the Dârülfünûn premises. The objective of this institution, an extension of the School of Fine Arts, is to provide women with an education in fine arts and train instructors for the newly established girls’ high schools.

1916 | The first Galatasaray Exhibition takes place. 
The Society of Ottoman Painters holds the first Galatasaray Exhibition at the Società Operaia, known as the Galatasaraylılar Yurdu [the Galatasaray alumni organisation], with the participation of forty-nine artists in the spring of 1916.

1917 | Melek participates in her first Galatasaray Exhibition and marries Celâl Bey. The Şişli Studio is established. 
In June, Melek (under the name ‘Melek Ziya’) shows her works titled Pitcher (study) and Lilac in the Galatasaray Exhibition. On 3 August, she marries Celâl Bey, a respected lawyer of Nicosian origin from Istanbul, and begins using the name Melek Celâl. 
Celâl Esad Arseven, a painter and art historian serving as the director of the Kadıköy Şehremaneti [Municipality] at the time, establishes the Şişli Studio in the Bulgarian Market, with the backing of the Ministry of War and under the patronage of Prince Abdülmecid Efendi. The propaganda paintings created in this studio are exhibited in War Paintings and Others, which opens at the Galatasaraylılar Yurdu on 23 December. There are plans for the exhibition to travel to the capitals of allied countries such as Vienna and Berlin.

1918 | The First World War ends, and the Allied Powers occupy Istanbul. Melek’s son, Mustafa Ziya, is born.
The Ottoman Empire and the Central Powers face a crushing defeat in the First World War, leading to substantial territorial and human losses. In the aftermath of the Armistice of Mudros signed on 30 October, British and French occupation forces set up a provisional government in Istanbul, and the Ottoman Empire cedes control over its regions beyond Anatolia.
War Paintings and Others, presenting works from the Şişli Studio, opens at the University of Vienna on 15 May 1918. Directed by Celâl Esad Arseven with Namık İsmail as his deputy, the showcase features contributions from women artists, encapsulating the essence of Ottoman modernisation. Although there are plans to replicate the exhibition in Berlin, the ongoing wartime challenges prevent its realisation.
Melek’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Abdurrahman Ziya Bey, serves as an inspector and official in Romania, occupied by the Central Powers. He sends provisions to his family in Istanbul throughout the war. Ziya Bey passes away on 4 May.
Melek Hanım and Celâl Bey celebrate the birth of their only child, Mustafa Ziya, on 15 October.

1919 | The National Struggle begins.
The Ottoman Empire is invited to the Paris Peace Conference on 22 April 1919. The conference reveals intentions to partition and colonise Anatolia. On 15 May 1919, Greek forces land in Izmir and begin their occupation of the surrounding territories. The day after the occupation of Izmir, Mustafa Kemal sets out from Istanbul on the SS Bandırma with seventeen officers. He arrives in Samsun on the morning of 19 May 1919, and initiates the National Struggle against the occupation of the Allied Powers.

1920 | The Grand National Assembly is inaugurated.
Upon receiving news of the British troops landing in Istanbul on 16 March 1920, Mustafa Kemal accelerates the efforts to convene a constituent assembly in Ankara. The Grand National Assembly opens on 23 April 1920. 
Melek participates in the Galatasaray Exhibition with five portraits and Bust of a Child.

1921 | The name of the Society of Ottoman Painters is changed to the Society of Turkish Painters.
Despite the continued British occupation of Istanbul and the impending disintegration of the empire, the group continues to organise the Galatasaray Exhibitions every year in an effort to maintain their solidarity. Melek Hanım participates in this year’s edition with her works Portrait of Celâl Bey, Portrait of a Woman (study), Tombola, Portrait of My Uncle, two children’s busts (studies), and two women’s busts (studies). 

1922 | The National Struggle concludes in victory.
The Great Offensive launched on 26 August, culminates with the Battle of Dumlupınar on 30 August 1922, and the National Struggle is won. In accordance with a parliamentary decision by the Grand National Assembly, the sultanate is abolished on 1 November 1922. Sultan Vahideddin leaves the country on 17 November and on 18 November a secret vote is held in the Grand National Assembly, declaring the election of the last heir to the dynasty, Abdülmecid Efendi, to the office of the caliphate.
The Lausanne Peace Conference begins on 20 November, aiming to forge an agreement to replace the Sèvres Treaty, which the new Turkish government does not recognise. The Turkish delegation invited to Lausanne by the Allied Powers is led by İsmet Paşa.
In July, Melek participates in the Galatasaray Exhibition with Portrait of (Ayın-Kef) Bey, Veiled Woman, Portrait of Lili, Study, and Portrait of Mimoş. Due to health issues, she travels to Vienna with her son in December and later proceeds to Munich, where she will stay until 15 September 1923.

1923 | The Republic is proclaimed.
The Lausanne Peace Conference concludes in February, and the Treaty of Lausanne is signed on 24 July. This landmark agreement formally recognises Turkey as a fully independent and sovereign nation. The Allied Forces commence the withdrawal of their troops, officially ending the occupation of Istanbul on 6 October. The People’s Party is founded on 6 September, and on 29 October, the Republic is officially proclaimed.
For its founding cadre, the proclamation of the Republic signifies a profound transformation, extending beyond a mere regime change to encompass broad social, economic, and cultural shifts aimed at shaping a new generation. The convening of an Education Congress even before the conclusion of the National Struggle, stands as a groundbreaking initiative to establish the values with which future generations will be raised. This congress marks the beginning of a new chapter in Turkish education, aligning it with national aspirations. The vital role of education is underscored in order to secure public endorsement for the imminent reforms and progressive endeavours that will steer the nascent republic towards modernity.
On 15 June, Nezihe Muhiddin Hanım presides over the inaugural gathering of the Women’s People’s Party, dedicated to enhancing women’s societal status. Facing denial of official recognition by the governorship, the organisation is reconstituted as the Turkish Women’s League.
Following the shift to co-education, the School of Fine Arts for Women merges with the School of Fine Arts; however, logistical limitations necessitate holding classes in separate facilities until 1926.
Two pastel studies by Melek are featured in the Galatasaray Exhibition of 1923.

1924 | The caliphate is abolished. The 1924 Constitution establishes primary education as a constitutional requirement for both genders.
The importance of preventing religion from becoming a political tool is emphasised when parliament convenes on 1 March. On 3 March 1924, the Turkish Grand National Assembly abolishes the caliphate, with a decision to exile the remaining members of the Ottoman dynasty from the country. 
Concurrently, the Law on the Unification of Education is enacted, bringing all educational entities under the auspices of the Ministry of Education.
In accordance with the 1924 Constitution dated 20 April, primary education is mandated for all citizens.
The Progressive Republican Party, recognised as the first opposition party of the Turkish Republic, is established on 17 November by Kâzım Karabekir, Rauf [Orbay] Bey, Ali Fuat [Cebesoy] Paşa, Refet [Bele] Paşa, and Adnan [Adıvar] Bey. The party is later implicated in the Sheikh Said Rebellion, leading to its dissolution on 3 June 1925.
Melek participates in the Galatasaray exhibition with her paintings titled Nude with Red Background, Nude with White Cloth, Bust, Flowers in a Vase, Nude Arab, Girl in Thought and Maid, as well as sculptures titled Sketch, Portrait Study and Study. She becomes the first female painter to exhibit a nude painting in Turkey.

1925 | Melek participates in the Galatasaray Exhibition with Chrysanthemums, Landscape, four studies, and two nude studies.

1926 | The Civil Code comes into effect.
The organisation initially known as the Society of Ottoman Painters first evolves into the Society of Turkish Painters, then becoming the Turkish Association of Fine Arts.
The Civil Code is adopted on 17 February and comes into effect on 4 October. This groundbreaking legal reform establishes equal rights for women in matters of marriage, divorce, property, and inheritance, aligning their status in private life with that of men.
Melek participates in the Galatasaray exhibition, presenting various works including Old Woman, Nude, Bust of a Child, and The Elderly, as well as two busts and two studies. In December, she travels to Venice.

1927 | The number of women in the workforce begins to increase.
The Law for Promoting Industry, which comes into effect on 28 March, incentivises the employment of women in industries covered by its provisions.
The name of the Turkish Association of Fine Arts is changed to the Turkish League of Fine Arts.
Melek embarks on her first trip to Switzerland, a country she will revisit throughout her lifetime.

1928 | The Alphabet Reform takes place.
The Language Commission convenes in Ankara on 26 June to create the new Turkish alphabet. The new alphabet, based on Latin script, is officially adopted through legislation passed on 1 November, leading to a widespread transition in public signage and printed media, including newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines.
The coeducational School of Fine Arts is renamed the Academy of Fine Arts.
The Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors emerges as the second artistic association established in the history of Turkish art, and the first after the proclamation of the Republic. The group includes artists trained by Turkey’s first native educators, such as İbrahim Çallı, Feyhaman Duran, and Hikmet Onat, who succeeded foreign instructors at the Academy of Fine Arts. Recalled prematurely from their studies in France and Germany by Namık İsmail, the deputy director of the Academy of Fine Arts, in 1928, they unite under the Association’s banner, formalising their collective with a charter on 15 July 1929.
Melek Hanım participates in the Galatasaray exhibition with Still Life, Woman with Child, Landscape, Portrait, and two nudes. 

1929 | Melek participates in the Ankara exhibition held by the League of Fine Arts, as well as the Galatasaray Exhibition.
The artists’ association originally known as the Society of Ottoman Painters undergoes its final name change, and continues its activities under the name League of Fine Arts until 1980. Melek participates in the exhibition opened by the group in Ankara with two works, one of which is Study-Venus, and in the same year’s Galatasaray Exhibition with Rest, Rose, and three nudes. 
In December, Melek travels to Switzerland and spends the winter in Vevey and Montreux.

1930 | Women are granted the right to vote and stand for local elections.
The Free Republican Party, established on 12 August, is closed on 16 November.
As of 3 April 1930, women are permitted to vote and run for municipal offices. By 26 October 1933, they earn the right to vote and be elected to the position of headman, as well as to the council of elders.

1931 | Melek sets out on a journey through Europe.
After visiting Athens, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, and Florence, Melek heads to Lausanne for medical treatment. 

1932 | The first People’s Houses are opened. 
At a pivotal congress on 10 April 1931, the Turkish Hearths organisation is integrated into the Republican People’s Party. Subsequently, during the party’s third grand congress in May, a resolution is passed to establish the People’s Houses. These centres, which officially open on 19 February 1932, are designed to foster social and cultural progress and to disseminate the ideals of the Republic among the populace. The initiatives of the People’s Houses seek to ensure that the relatively new practices of painting and sculpture within Turkish art ‘resonate deeply with and truly belong to the people.’

1933 | Melek travels to Lausanne in the autumn, where she will stay until the spring of the following year.

1934 | Women earn the right to vote and stand for general election.
On 5 December, an amendment to Articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution grants women the right to vote and run for election as members of parliament. The same modification is made in the Law of Parliamentary Elections, ensuring that the equal rights granted by the Constitution are also reflected in the election law.
Melek participates in the 18th Galatasaray Exhibition opened in July with Flower, Academy (watercolour), Study, Academy, three portraits, two still lifes, and six busts.

1935 | The first female members of parliament are elected. Melek organises her first exhibition. The Family Name Law is enacted. 
On 2 January, the enactment of law number 2525 requires all Turkish citizens to adopt a family name. With her family picking the surname Sofu, Melek Hanım adopts the full name Melek Celâl Sofu.
The Turkish Grand National Assembly’s fifth term elections take place on 8 February, marking a momentous occasion as women exercise their right to vote for the first time. Seventeen women are elected to parliament, a number which increases to eighteen through subsequent by-elections. Inspired by these events, in 1936, Melek Celâl paints Woman Taking the Floor at the Old Grand National Assembly.
The 12th International Women’s Congress convenes in Istanbul, focusing on women’s rights and peace debates.
Melek Hanım mounts an exhibition of her work, along with the graphic designer İhap Hulûsi. This exhibition, which opens on 21 September at the Mısır Apartment located on İstiklal Avenue, is covered in the press.

1936-1937 | Melek’s first articles are published. 
Melek Celâl takes part in the 20th Galatasaray Exhibition, which opens on 2 August 1936, presenting Portrait of a Woman, Arab Girl, two nudes, and three still lifes featuring flowers. In 1936 and 1937, her first articles are published in the architecture magazine Arkitekt and in the Tan newspaper. She is in Lausanne in February.

1938 | Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passes away. Melek’s first book is published.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passes away on 10 November. The commemorative medallion designed by Melek Celâl for Atatürk in 1939 bears the inscription ‘The Turkish woman that you liberated will forever shed tears of gratitude for you.’
In April, Melek Celâl’s book titled Reisülhattatin Kâmil Akdik, on the life and artistic legacy of the master calligrapher, enriched with high-quality reproductions of his works, is published. She participates in the 15th Ankara Painting Exhibition in July with a portrait of a young girl.

1939 | The Second World War begins.
Germany attacks Poland on 1 September 1939, and the Second World War begins. 
Melek Celâl’s book Türk İşlemeleri [Turkish Handicrafts] is published by Kenan Printing House. Enriched with embroideries from the author’s own collection as well as her own designs, the work is the first to discuss the traditional Turkish art of embroidery.
She participates in the Galatasaray exhibition with Nude, Still Life, and Drawing, as well as three portraits. She also takes part in the First State Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture organised by the Ministry of Education in Ankara, exhibiting Harvest, Portrait (drawing), Lily, Portrait, Flower, seven landscape etchings and two nudes. 

1940 | Melek gives her first lecture.
Melek Celâl delivers a presentation titled ‘Turkish Handicrafts’ at a series of conferences organised by the Beyoğlu People’s House on 26 December, receiving praise in newspapers. The lecture, attended by many notable figures from the cultural and artistic community, sheds light on the influence of traditional Turkish embroideries on their European counterparts.
Melek Celâl serves on the selection jury of an exhibition held at the French Embassy on İstiklal Avenue, which features representatives of modern French art. Alongside Melek Hanım on the jury are Yahya Kemal, Burhan Toprak, İbrahim Çallı, Léopold Lévy, Albert Gabriel, and Louis Süe.

1941 | Melek participates in an exhibition at the Kadıköy People’s House.
Melek Celâl contributes to an exhibition at the Kadıköy People’s House, organised to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the People’s Houses and featuring works by artists from Kadıköy. She also participates in the Galatasaray Exhibition with two floral paintings and various engravings. Her articles are published in the Vatan and Tan newspapers.

1942 | Melek gives a lecture on Kâmil Akdik. 
On 29 January, Melek Celâl presents a lecture at the Beyoğlu People’s House focusing on the master calligrapher Kâmil Akdik. She also participates in the Galatasaray Exhibition, showcasing works titled Nısfiye Zen, Roses, Magnolia, and two studies.

1943 | Melek organises an exhibition and gives a lecture on Turkish embroideries.
In February, Melek Celâl takes part in a painting exhibition at the Kadıköy People’s House. In June, she organises a Turkish Embroideries exhibition and delivers a lecture at the Kadıköy People’s House. Her speech from this event is also published in the Hep Bu Topraktan and Arkitekt magazines. In July, she participates in the League of Fine Arts Painting Exhibition. She contributes a portrait to the Galatasaray Exhibition in August. In December, she travels to Budapest.

1944 | Due to the Second World War, Melek stays in Switzerland.
Melek Hanım travels to Geneva to stay with her son Ziya, taking up residence at the Hôtel Richemond. She stays there until 1946.

1945 | The Second World War comes to an end.
Melek Celâl publishes an article on Turkish embroideries in the July-August 1945 issue of the Geneva Ethnography Museum’s newspaper. In October, she delivers a lecture at the same museum.
President İsmet İnönü, in his speech on 1 November, acknowledges that the absence of an opposition party is a shortfall for democracy in Turkey. During the 1945 budget voting session, political figures Celal Bayar, Adnan Menderes, Fuat Köprülü, Refik Koraltan, and Emin Sazak vote against the budget, expressing no confidence in the government. The ‘Motion of Four,’ led by Bayar, Menderes, Koraltan, and Köprülü on 7 June, demanding the full implementation of the Constitution and the establishment of democracy within the ranks of the Republican People’s Party, is rejected. By early December, Celal Bayar steps down from the Republican People’s Party. Then, on 7 January 1946, the Democratic Party is established, with Bayar at the helm and the proponents of the ‘Motion of Four’ as its founding members.

1946 | Melek’s husband, Celâl Bey, passes away.
On 21 February, Melek Celâl gives a lecture on Turkish architecture and decorative arts at the Palais de Rumine, where the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. Upon learning of Celâl Bey’s illness in March, she returns to Turkey. A week after her arrival in Istanbul, on 14 April, Celâl Bey passes away. Melek Celâl departs from Istanbul on 4 November, travels through Naples and Rome, and arrives in Switzerland.

1948 | Melek’s book Şeyh Hamdullah is published.
Melek Celâl plays a pivotal role in the establishment of the Friends of the Arts Association in Istanbul, spearheaded by Fikret Adil. On 31 May, a profile by Şükûfe Nihal titled ‘Ressam [The Painter] Melek Celâl’ is published in the Kadın Gazetesi [Women’s Newspaper].

1949 | The Turkish Women Painters Exhibition is organised.
Melek visits Paris in March. She participates in the Turkish Women Painters Exhibition in April with Portrait of A. Cimcoz.

1950 | The Democratic Party comes to power in the general elections held in May.
Melek Celâl gives a lecture on handicrafts at the Eminönü People’s House on 1 February. She is in Paris during April and May, and travels to Lausanne in December.

1951 | While in Munich receiving treatment, Melek Hanım connects with Dr. Lampé.
Melek Hanım travels from Switzerland to Germany for treatment. While there, she once again crosses paths with Dr. Arno Eduard Lampé, whom she first met in a medical capacity in Munich in 1922. Dr. Lampé would later accompany Melek to Istanbul in 1953.

1955 | An article by Melek Celâl titled ‘A Buddhist Motif in Turkish Ornamentation’ is published in the Sinologica journal in Basel. In May, she gives a lecture in Bern.

1956 | Melek marries Dr. Lampé.
The couple is married in Kadıköy on 30 November. Melek, now living in Munich, occasionally visits Istanbul.

1958 | Yahya Kemal passes away.
In February, Melek gives a lecture in Bonn titled ‘Turkish Embroidery Through the Ages.’
On 4 November, an article by Melek about Yahya Kemal, who passed away on 1 November and had been her close friend for forty years, is published in the Yeni Sabah newspaper.

1959 | Melek’s French book on the Topkapı Palace, titled Le Vieux Sérail des Sultans [The Old Palace of the Sultans], is published.

1960 | A military coup takes place; Melek stays in Munich.
The Democratic Party, having come to power with a decisive victory in the 1950 elections and maintaining their position through the 1954 and 1957 elections, faces growing dissent due to their authoritarian measures. This culminates in a military coup on 27 May, and the Turkish army seizes power. Following the coup, Melek, residing in Munich, chooses to delay her return to Turkey amidst the uncertainty in Istanbul.
In January, Arkitekt magazine reports that Melek Celâl has delivered two lectures concerning the Topkapı Palace, one in Bonn and the other in Munich.

1963 | Melek’s article titled ‘Paris Rejuvenated’ is published in the January issue of Arkitekt magazine.

1964 | Melek organises her first solo exhibition in Munich under the name Melek Lampé.
Her painting exhibition opens at the Galerie Schumacher in Munich on 24 March, and remains open for one month.

1965-1975 | Melek’s final years.
In Munich in April, Melek sustains a hip fracture, preventing her from participating in two upcoming conferences in Bonn and Münster. She fulfils a longstanding desire to visit Istanbul on 15 August, yet she suffers a stroke that leaves her paralysed. Following a period of treatment in the hospital, her husband takes her back to Munich. Melek, who until this time had been actively engaged in her painting pursuits in a studio in Munich, ceases to produce any work after her illness.
Melek receives German citizenship on 28 April 1969. Her husband, Dr. Lampé, passes away on 4 August 1974.

1976 | Melek passes away on 15 September 1976, at the Neuwittelsbach Hospital in Munich.