[Haydār Ra’īs; Haydar Reis; Nigari; Reis Haydar]
(b ?1492; d Istanbul, 1572).
Ottoman painter, poet and naval captain. He is often known by the pseudonym Nigari (Ott. nigārī, ‘the portraitist’), with which he signed several paintings of Ottoman sultans and court officials. His couplets are frequently included on his paintings. He seems to have painted portraits from life of the sultans Süleyman (reg 1520–66) and Selim II (reg 1566–74) and the grand admiral of the Ottoman fleet, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha (d 1546). These single-leaf portraits were later incorporated into albums (e.g. Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H 2134). The portraits reveal a realistic approach and depict the physical characteristics of the subjects, employing large figures painted in bold colours on a dark-green ground with minimal settings. In contrast to works by members of the imperial painting studio (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(e)), Nigari’s portraits are less refined and lack technical finesse: the sheets are not polished and the pigments are rapidly applied. Nevertheless, they display an individual style and a personal approach. His work helped to establish the genre of portraiture in Ottoman court circles that had been introduced in the 1480s. Although late 15th-century portraits show the impact of European art, Nigari’s works are purely in the Ottoman tradition and his style remained untouched by outside influences, even though he copied prints of European rulers, including Francis I and Charles V (e.g. Cambridge, MA, Sackler Mus., 85.214a and b)....