The building that today houses the National Palaces Museum of Painting is the Apartment of the Heir Apparent at Dolmabahçe Palace. Built during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, this building is an architectural symbol of the new freedom permitted to Ottoman heirs to the throne following the Reforms of 1839. Previously royal princes had been kept in seclusion from the outside world. The building was the residence of Sultan Abdülaziz, Sultan Murad V, Sultan Abdülhamid II, Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, Yusuf İzzettin Efendi, Sultan Mehmed VI and Caliph Abdülmecid, when they were crown princes.
Following restoration of one section of the Apartment of the Heir Apparent at Dolmabahçe Palace, it opened to the public as the National Palaces Museum of Painting on 22 March 2014. The museum attracted large numbers of art lovers, with its collection that reflects tastes in art at the Ottoman palace in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the formation and development of Turkey’s first collection of western style paintings and drawings. Between March 2014 and March 2020, a total of 200 pictures from the National Palaces Painting Collection and the Topkapı Palace Museum Collection were exhibited here.
After restoration of the second part of the Apartment of the Heir Apparent was completed, this was reorganised to integrate it with the previously opened section, so creating a museum that is outstanding in its field in Turkey. The museum’s exhibition panels, lighting and information systems have been renewed in line with contemporary museum technology. The number of paintings and drawings in the museum increased to a total of 553 after Yıldız Palace and Topkapı Palace became part of the National Palaces. These works of art range in date from the 16th to 20th centuries. The most notable work is Prince Halim Hunting Gazelles in the Gatah Desert: Greyhounds’ Share by Félix-Auguste Clément, which originally hung in the Said Halim Paşa Waterfront Mansion and is the largest Orientalist painting in Turkey. As part of the museum’s refurbishment, the number of thematic galleries was increased from 11 to 34:
Sultan Abdülmecid and Sultan Abdülaziz Hall, Devlet-i Aliyye, Salvatore Valéri, Ressâm-ı Hazret-i Şehriyârî (Palace Painters), Ivan Konstantinovich Ayvazovski, Emilio Della Sudda, Osman Nuri Paşa, Süleyman Seyyid, Turkish Bath Culture, Halil Paşa, Ottoman Splendour, (Şeker) Ahmed Ali Paşa, Impressions of Abdülmecid Efendi’s Studio, Abdülmecid Efendi, Osman Hamdi Bey, (Hoca) Ali Rıza, Hüseyin Zekâi Paşa, Paintings from the Goupil Gallery, Images of Istanbul, Ottoman Women, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Hâne-i Saâdet, Portraits of the Sultans, Ottoman Navy, Wars and Victories I and II, Wars and Victories Hall, Conquest and Conqueror, Abdülmecid Efendi’s Studio, On the Orient, Landscapes at the Ottoman Palace, Painters Trained at the Palace School, Ottoman Bureacracy, Portraits and the Çanakkale galleries.
National Palaces Painting Museum