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THE BRIDE OF TREBIZOND: TURKS AND TURKMENS ON A FLORENTINE WEDDING CHEST, CIRCA 1460

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A Florentine cassone (wedding chest) painted circa 1460 by Apollonio di Giovanni and Marco del Buono shows a battle taking place in the vicinity of the Byzantine empire of Trebizond located on the Black Sea. In 1458, the Trapezuntine princess Theodora Komnena married the Turkmen leader Uzun Hasan. I argue that the imagery of the wedding chest refers to Uzun Hasan’s early military success against the Ottoman Turks in 1459–60. He appears on a triumphal chariot accompanied by Timur, who had defeated the Ottomans in 1402. The close conjunction of the two military figures, along with their similarity in dress and gesture, offers visual proof of Uzun Hasan’s claim to be the legitimate successor of the Timurids. A Florentine patron of the Trebizond cassone might have seen in Uzun Hasan a heroic defender of the last bastion of the Byzantine empire, a valiant general, and a loyal son-in-law. The cassone presents an idealized image for those Florentine patricians who hoped that an Asiatic League might curb Ottoman expansion while nevertheless protecting trade in the Middle East.

10.1163/22118993-90000184
/content/journals/10.1163/22118993-90000184
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/content/journals/10.1163/22118993-90000184
2012-03-27
2016-12-03

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