"Boğaz’ın Rusları: 1920’li Yıllarda Beyoğlu’ndaki Rus Göçmen Sanatçılar"

Ekaterina Aygün

Toplumsal Tarih (Tarih Vakfı, Istanbul), no. 330, June 2021, pp. 9–15

Existing literature on Russian-speaking émigré artists in Constantinople in the 1920s is mostly based on three sources: almanac Farewell, almanac Les Russes sur le Bosphore [Russians on the Bosporus] and Jak Deleon’s essays. Being far from thorough, the information from these three sources has been “roaming” from one study to another for quite a long time. It has now turned out however, that the almanacs are not wholly reliable due to their insufficient systematization and the absence of some artists’ full names in the texts. As my research brought to light, this caused a wrong indication of some émigré artists from the former Russian Empire in Istanbul as the Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople’s members. For the same reasons, instead of Vladimir/Wladimir Ivanoff, Vasily Ivanov was wrongly known as the chairman of the Union.

For this and other reasons, I attempted to investigate the topic with the help of sources that haven’t been previously touched upon, and which could shed more light on the issue, primarily periodicals in Russian language published in Istanbul in the 1920s and archival material from Stearns Family Papers (The College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA). The first results of this research were recently published in Toplumsal Tarih Magazine. My article focuses on Russian émigré artists (painters, photographers, craftsmen) in Beyoğlu from 1919 to 1928 and answers the following questions:

  • How did “Russian” artists make a living from their art in exile?
  • Did they work together or every artist for himself?
  • How were they occupied after the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923?
  • Who supported them, and finally, why did they decide to work in Beyoğlu and not in some other district of the city?

The issue’s cover depicts a caricature (Istanbul, 1922) by Mitritch Karelin (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross) who was an émigré artist from the Russian Empire and a member of the Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople.