- Esin Atil
[Mehmed-i Siyah; Kara Mehmed Çelebi]
Ottoman illuminator. The greatest student of Şahkulu, Kara Memi developed a new naturalistic style that quickly spread to other court arts including textiles, rugs, ceramics and tiles and survived for many centuries. He is one of the few artists employed in the imperial Ottoman painting studio under Süleyman (reg 1520–66) whose name is recorded in archival documents and extant works. First mentioned on a payroll register dated 1545, Kara Memi rose quickly so that by the early 1550s his wages for Koran illumination were the highest given to any artist working on manuscripts commissioned by the Süleymaniye Mosque; by 1557–8 he was head painter (Ott. nakkaşbaşı). A librarian’s note on the flyleaf of a Koran manuscript transcribed by ‛Abdallah Sayrafi in 1344–5 and refurbished for the Ottoman grand vizier Rüstem Pasha in the mid-1550s (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., E.H. 49) credits Kara Memi with the illumination, and he signed the illumination in a spectacular manuscript of the ...