Hasan Rıza

Who is Hasan Rıza? (1858-1913)

He belongs to the generation of military painters of Turkish painting. He generally worked on war-themed compositions and portraits. He is called “Martyr” because he was killed by Bulgarian soldiers while trying to save the paintings in his workshop during the occupation of Edirne after the Balkan Wars.
He was born in 1858 in the Ağa bath in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul. His father is Miralay Şakir Bey and his mother is Nefise Hanım.
He started painting at a young age; During his education at the Naval Academy, he was known as Painter Hasan Rıza Üsküdar among his schoolmates. In 1881, when he finished the high school and transferred to the Military Academy, he voluntarily participated in the ’93 War. Hasan Rıza, who was given the protection of an Italian painter during the war, was impressed by this painter and followed his works closely.
After the war ended, he returned to his education at the Naval Academy. While he was in his last year at school, he was assigned to repair the paintings in the cabins of Sultan Abdulhamid’s yacht and renew the damaged decorations. Due to his success in this task, Hasan Rıza was given the rank of “officer” before graduating. However, he preferred painting and left his rank and went to Italy to study painting.
After improving his understanding of art by working in workshops in Rome, Florence and Naples for ten years, he went to Egypt and studied Egyptian art for two years. When he returned to Turkey after twelve years, he was asked to be given back his rank, but he did not accept; He established a workshop in Edirne Karaağaç and continued his work in his workshop. He painted portraits of famous people and paintings depicting historical events, especially important events and wars in Ottoman history. In the painting depicting Fatih Sultan Mehmet entering Istanbul from Topkapı, he depicted himself as a janissary guard with a rifle in his hand, right next to the carat on which Fatih was riding.

He taught at various schools in Edirne, and founded and managed the Edirne branch of Numune-i Terakki Mektebi, founded by Riyaziyeci Mehmet Nadir Bey. In 1908, he became the director of the Edirne Provincial Industrial School (Edirne Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School), in whose construction Şevket Bey, the Manager of the Edirne Provincial Printing House, took an active part. The school was converted into a hospital during the Balkan War. Hasan Rıza assumed the directorship of the hospital. During his teaching at Edirne High School, he also became the teacher of the painter Hayri Çizel from Dimetoka.
He was killed by Bulgarian soldiers while he was going towards Karaağaç to save the paintings in his workshop on March 26, 1913, when the Bulgarian army entered the city. He was buried with about 62 soldiers who were martyred in the same place.
Some of the paintings in Hasan Rıza Bey's workshop were destroyed and looted, and some were confiscated and taken to Sofia. Two of his students, Sami Yetik and Mehmet Ali Laga, tried to protect their teacher's works despite being taken prisoner. Mehmet Ali Laga took the painting "The Conqueror's Movement from Edirne to Istanbul with Cannons", which was hanging in the Edirne Musiriyet Office, from its frame and kept it wrapped around his body during his captivity, so that it would not fall into enemy hands. This work is in the Sabancı Museum Collection.
Some of his paintings that have survived to the present day are: The Siege of Vienna and the Battle of Belgrade in the Istanbul Military Museum, "Conqueror's Supervision of the Landing of Ships from Land to Sea for the Siege of Istanbul" and "From Edirne to Istanbul with the Conqueror's Army" in the Istanbul Naval Museum. March paintings, the Siege of Eğri in Ankara Army House and the Battle of Mohaç.
A small part of Hasan Rıza Bey's works is still in Edirne Municipality. His paintings in Edirne Municipality Building are: Mehmet the Conqueror's Ships Landing (1896), Women Embroidering Embroidery by the Pool (1901), Deers in Snowy Weather (1901), Lambs (1901), Ottomans' Passage to Rumelia (1903), 'Sailboat in Stormy Weather' (1903).
There are two works by Hasan Rıza on the walls of Edirne Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School, where he was the principal.
A few of his works appeared in the Vienna Museum.
After his death
In order to keep the name of Hasan Rıza Bey alive, the name of Edirne Fine Arts High School was changed to "Edirne Martyr Painter Hasan Rıza Fine Arts High School" in 2015.
On the 104th anniversary of Hasan Rıza's death, a statue of him was erected on Karaağaç Road, Lozan Street, built by Edirne Municipality.

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