Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient

IN SEARCH OF 'MONSIEUR PIERRE:' Teotig’s Printed Archive in Exile & the Recovery of Cultural Memory

Ararat-Eskijian Museum Armenian Center at Columbia University Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh NAASR Vazken Khatchig Davidian

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 5:00pm Eastern / 2:00pm Pacific
On Zoom and NAASR's YouTube channel Armenian Studies.

VAZKEN KHATCHIG DAVIDIAN, Calouste Gulbenkian Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford.

HEGHNAR ZEITLIAN WATENPAUGH, Professor of Art History at the University of California, Davis.

A chance encounter in the autumn of 1922 with the name ‘Bedros Srabian’ listed in an old edition of a school journal became the trigger that led the Constantinople Armenian writer and editor Teotig (Teotoros Lapchindjian, 1873-1928) into a six-year quest – one that accompanied him throughout his long journey as an exile from Constantinople to the Greek Islands, and finally from Cyprus to Paris. Srabian (1833-1898), affectionately referred to by his contemporaries and students (who included Teotig) as ‘Monsieur Pierre’, was none other than one of the most distinguished Ottoman artists and decorators of the late Tanzimat and early Hamidian periods and a respected art teacher at several prestigious schools in the Ottoman capital. Yet, by the early 1920s his name had been confined to obscurity, whilst once celebrated works of art were scattered and lost.

In this illustrated presentation, Dr. Davidian follows Teotig’s quest for news and information of his old teacher to its culmination in an article entitled ‘Monsieur Pierre’ («Միւսիւ Բիեռ»), assembled only a few months before his death, and published posthumously in the 1929, and final, edition of his popular Everyone’s Almanac (Ամէնուն տարեցոյցը, 1907-1929). Whilst underscoring its enormous value to the art and cultural historian, the paper also engages with Teotig’s article as an insightful text of reflection, revelatory of the mindset and concerns of the exiled intellectual facing the uncertainties and challenges of dispersal and exilic precariousness.

Vazken Khatchig Davidian is Calouste Gulbenkian Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Oriental Institute, University of OxfordHe defended his doctoral thesis in art history – entitled ‘The Figure of the Bantoukhd Hamal of Constantinople: Late Nineteenth Century Representations of Migrant Workers from Ottoman Armenia’ – at Birkbeck College, University of London in 2019. He is currently working on several projects, including two monographs.

Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh is a Professor of Art History at the University of California, Davis. She specializes in the history of art, architecture, and urbanism in the Middle East, including architectural preservation, museums, and cultural heritage. Her newest book, The Missing Pages: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript, from Genocide to Justice was published by Stanford University Press in 2019.

Ararat-Eskijian Museum (AEM)
Columbia University Armenian Center
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)

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