Renowned Ottoman sultan’s portrait to be auctioned in London

A portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, known as Fatih Sultan Mehmet in Turkish, is expected to be put up for sale at London’s renowned Christie's auction house on June 25, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday

The portrait in Christie’s Islamic and Indian Art collection is expected to sell for between $500,000 and $740,000. Though unsigned, it’s believed to be drawn by Italian Renaissance painter Gentile Bellini in 1480, and features a mystery second figure.

“We don't know who this other figure is. There have been a few suggestions -- for instance, one of his three sons. But that does not seem to fit precisely how he is depicted in terms of the age that one of the sons would have been at the time,’’ said Christie’s official Sara Plumbly.

Plumby added that the individual was assumed to be “a very important person or someone from the royal family,” since a painting second figure on the same scale with Ottoman sultans in portraits was an uncommon practice at the time.

The artwork is one of only three portraits made during the sultan’s era, Plumby said.

One other portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror -- also drawn by Bellini -- is kept at London’s National Gallery.

Mehmet the Conqueror ruled from 1432 to 1481, and is widely lauded as one of the greatest sultans of the Ottoman Empire for his conquest of Istanbul at the age of 21 and asserting control over large areas of the Balkans. During his reign, Ottoman control expanded to an area spanning 2.2 million square kilometres.