Ahmed Kamil Akdik is one of the last great Ottoman calligraphers. Born in the Fındıklı neighborhood of Istanbul in 1861, Ahmed Kâmil displayed an interest in the art of calligraphy from his earliest years in primary school. In 1879 he began to study thuluth (sülüs) and naskhi (nesih) scripts with the most renowned calligrapher of the era, Sami Efendi (1838-1912), and after earning his certificate in 1884 with the approval of Şevki Efendi, he became one of the foremost Ottoman calligraphers. His certificate (icazet) is preserved in the Library of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
After beginning to work for the Divan-ı Hümayun (the Ottoman Imperial Council) in 1894, he learned from his teacher Sami Efendi the divani and celi divani scripts, as well as the inscription of the tuğra, or imperial monogram, and replaced his teacher after the latter’s retirement.
He taught the thuluth and naskhi script at the Medresetü’l-Hattatin (school of calligraphy) that was established in 1915, and in 1918 gave lessons in rik’a script at the Galatasaray Secondary School. In 1915 he was honored by Sultan Reşad (r. 1909-1918) with the title of Reisü’l-Hattatin (Chief Calligrapher), for his standing and success in his profession.
Ahmed Kâmil began to teach calligraphy in 1936 at the State Academy of the Fine Arts, and continued doing so until his death; he experienced all the changes that took place during the transition from Arabic script to the Latin alphabet, conforming to the changes brought about by this language revolution in all the schools in which he taught, and becoming one of the leaders of this last generation of calligraphers. Ahmed Kâmil Akdik is the father of painter Şeref Akdik (1899-1972).
Ahmed Kâmil Akdik, in this new addition to the Sakıp Sabancı Museum Collection, has written a poem in Arabic consisting of four lines in thuluth script. Sheikh Hamdullah very much enjoyed writing this poem and wrote it frequently; here Ahmed Kâmil has imitated the Sheikh’s writing exactly, including the Sheikh’s signature, and indicated on the panel that he has done this in imitation of the Sheikh. In calligraphy it is considered of great importance for a calligrapher to copy the work of the great masters who preceded him. This is considered an expression of deep respect for the great masters.
The calligraphic panel (Levha) by Ahmed Kâmil Akdik was purchased in November 2008 from the Emin Barın Calligraphy Collection for the Sakıp Sabancı Museum Calligraphy Collection. The Museum Collection also preserves a Kıt’a (Strophe) by the same artist (110-0130-AKA).
Sources: Muhittin Serin, Hat Sanatı ve Meşhur Hattatlar, İstanbul, 2003: 214-217; Uğur Derman, Emin Barın ve Koleksiyonu, İstanbul, 2006: 140-147.