Abstract: This paper explores the portraits of a number of Tarsia family members who served as dragomans to the Venetian Republic in the late 17th century. The portraits are currently kept in the Koper Museum in Slovenia. In this study I consider dragomans as cultural intermediaries; just like commercial brokers and religious converts, dragomans his- torically occupied the contact zones where different cultures met and clashed. Dragomans can be considered “trans-imperial” subjects because they straddled political, linguistic and cultural boundaries between empires, in this case the Ottoman Empire and Venice. This professional group also pioneered the introduction of new customs and manners in the field of culture and arts. This study explores dragomans as clients and patrons of artists, an aspect with emerged as a part and parcel of their role as influential cultural intermediaries in the early modern Mediterranean. Portraits of Tarsia family members are among the earliest known to have been commissioned by dragomans. The patronage extended by such families of dragomans as the Tarsias demonstrates their social standing. These portraits exemplify the active role of dragomans as powerful cultural agents and serve as documentary evidence of the manners, dress codes, and professional symbols of dragomans.

Speaker’s Bio: Aykut Gurcaglar is an art historian and professor of art history. Before moving to Canada he taught at Turkey’s prestigious fine arts university, MSGSU. He is the author of Hayali Istanbul Manzaraları (Imaginary Landscapes of Istanbul), YKY Publishing, 2005 and Sınırdaki Portreler: Sanat Hamileri Olarak Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Tercümanlar (Portraits on the Border: Dragomans as Patrons of Art in the Ottoman Empire), Novel Publishing, 2013. He has published widely on imaginary urban landscapes and visual representations of Ottoman court interpreters in Turkish and international journals. His recent work involves a comparative perspective on early 20th century Turkish and Canadian rural landscapes.