Sheikh Hamdullah is considered the first great calligrapher of the post-conquest Ottoman period. He is credited with being the first Ottoman calligrapher to develop and standardize naskh as the most legible script for use in Qur'an manuscripts. He was born in Amasya in the North of Central Anatolia in AH 833/1429 AD or AH 840/1456 AD, the son of a Sheikh of the Suhrawardi order from Bukhara. It is for this reason that he often signs himself al-Sheikh. He learnt the six scripts from Hayreddin Mar'ashi, a follower of Yaqut al-Musta'simi and a pupil of 'Abdullah Sayrafi. When Bayezid II was governor of Amasya, he studied calligraphy with Sheikh Hamdullah, and on Bayezid's accession as Sultan in AH 886/1481 AD, the calligrapher became master scribe at the palace in Istanbul.
The present panel is particularly interesting in that the calligraphy is an example of Sheikh Hamdullah's early naskh in the Yaqutian style, different from that for which he later became so famous. It is thus likely that in fact it was written just after his arrival in Istanbul. For a mashq by Sheikh Hamdullah's son, please see lot 208.