This stationary sheet features elaborate watermarks bearing the portrait of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V Reshad within an ovoid frame, on the right-hand side, and another of the imperial arms, on the left-hand side, while the pages are traversed by watermarked ruled lines.
Creating watermarks of this fine quality required extraordinary artistic skill, and the present work was almost certainly commissioned by the Sultan’s court. It follows in a long line of elaborate watermarks that were the result of royal patronage in Europe going as far back as the 16th Century, although all such works are extremely rare. Indeed, we are not aware of another comparable work made for the Ottoman court.
Sultan Mehmed V Reshad (1844 – 1918, reigned 1909 – 1918) ascended to the throne upon the overthrow of his elder brother Abdul Hamid II (reigned 1876-1909). Unlike his headstrong predecessor, he was considered to be a puppet leader, controlled by the ‘Young Turk’ regime that led the Ottoman Empire into the World War I and the Sublime Porte’s demise. Thus, the present work is from the twilight of courtly patronage in Istanbul.
References: N / A – seemingly unrecorded.