The “German Fountain” in Istanbul: Object of Transfer in the Age of Historicism and Diplomacy

Faculty/Professorship: Islamic Art and Archaeology  
Author(s): Korn, Lorenz  
Title of the Journal: Der Islam. Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East
ISSN: 1613-0928
Publisher Information: Berlin : de Gruyter
Year of publication: 2018
Volume: 95
Issue: 2
Pages: 549-595
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1515/islam-2018-0034
The „German Fountain“ on the Hippodrome in Istanbul, commissioned by the German emperor Wilhelm II, has been perceived (and sometimes ridiculed) as a marginal by-product of imperialism and historicism. However, the history of its origins, construction and inauguration highlights significant aspects of German-Ottoman relations in the Hamidian period. The fountain is an example for the role that art and architecture played in these relations. The history of its planning indicates in which way the urban history of Istanbul was perceived and how a new monument was inserted, under the particular conditions of patronage by a foreign monarch. For the present article, German archival sources have been utilized to reconstruct the events and to interpret underlying attitudes. These sources elucidate the process of veritable trans-cultural negotiations, in which numerous partners with differing agendas participated. Besides, an art historical glance at the design of the fountain permits conclusions on choices that were made by the patron and the architect, significant for the understanding of the monument by its contemporaries. The particular conditions of the Ottoman Empire struggling for survival vis à vis European powers, and German foreign politics, become visible in the location and style of the fountain as well as in the protocol of its inauguration.
Keywords: Istanbul, Architecture, Public Monument, Historicism, Imperialism
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 23. November 2018