Osman Hamdi Bey was the most important Turkish artist of the 19th century to work in the western tradition. He trained in Paris under Jean-Léon Gérôme and upon his return to Turkey fulfilled various cultural positions before instituting and becoming the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts. Married to a French woman, he became close friends with the Italian artist Fausto Zonaro (see lot 70).
Hamdi Bey's paintings are typically rendered with a realism born from native experience, and which have little of the drama or voyeurism associated with western artists working in the genre. The everyday subject of the present work is unusual in its humble subject matter, but the tableau it presents is sympathetic. The artist presents his sitter as a man of some status, taking pride in a skilled job well done.
An architectural painting in oil of the same subject, but without the inclusion of the figure or the goat, is illustrated in M. Cezar, Sanatta Bati'ya Açilis ve Osman Hamdi, Istanbul, 1995, p. 663.