Life was a Picnic in the Spring

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Sa‘dabad Palace, from an eighteenth-century engraving by Charles de Perthusier.

Life was a Picnic in the Spring

‘Life was a picnic in the Spring’: palace architecture and the pursuit of pleasure in the Ottoman ‘Tulip Era’, 1718–1730. Presented by Dr Susan Scollay, FRAS.

The ‘Tulip Era’ (Lâle Devri) is the name given to the period in the early eighteenth century when Sultan Ahmed III ruled the Ottoman Empire. Rather than being a military leader like his predecessors, Ahmed III gained notoriety for the pleasure palaces he built in Istanbul and the extravagant parties and festivals that were a regular feature of court life. The general understanding is that Ottoman politics and culture became increasingly westernised in this period of dynamic change – with art, civic architecture and fashion reaching unprecedented heights of ostentation and social innovation. Recent scholarship, however, presents new perspectives on the architecture and entertainments that enthralled European visitors to the Ottoman capital, yet provoked a domestic rebellion that deposed the sultan in 1730 and reduced his favourite pleasure place to ruins.

Susan Scollay is an independent art historian who specialises in the Islamic world, with a focus on the art and architecture of the Ottoman Empire. She is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and a contributing editor to the London-based journal, HALI: textiles, carpets and Islamic art. Her doctoral research on the ruined fifteenth-century Ottoman imperial palace at Edirne/Adrianople in Thrace underpins her continuing interest in the architectural, visual and literary histories of not only the Ottomans, but also their counterparts in Mughal India, Safavid Iran and the wider Persianate cultural sphere. Susan’s publications include, Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond, Melbourne and Oxford, 2012; and the introduction to a new luxury edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Oxford, 2014.

Refreshments provided. Bookings and payments in advance are essential. No refunds. 280 Pitt Street, Sydney (between Bathurst and Park Streets)

How to Book: Either by booking through this website, or by email ( or phone (02 9958 7378) to Jillian Kennedy.

How to Pay:

1. By direct deposit with “Your name SCOLLAY” as a reference.

Account Name: The Asian Arts Society of Australia

BSB: 012 003

Account Number: 2185 28414

2. By credit card via this website. (use the “Go to Bookings” button above)


4 April, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm AEST
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Sydney Mechanics School of Arts
280 Pitt St
Sydney, NSW Australia
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