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Maryam Şahinyan - Gifted Gallery

Maryam Şahinyan, born 1911 in Sivas, was a famed photographer who is considered the first woman studio photographer in Turkey.

The Artist's Father, Agop Şahinyan Paşa

Maryam Şahinyan was born at Şahinyan Konağı, now known as the Camlı Köşk in the city centre of Sivas, Turkey. Her grandfather, Agop Şahinyan Paşa, was the representative of Sivas in the first Ottoman Parliament established in 1877. She was of Armenian descent.

Şahinyan's family moved to Istanbul via Samsun leaving behind assets such as the Şahinyan Konak, 5 flour mills, and large amounts of real estate. The family settled in the Harbiye district of Istanbul and soon adjusted to a new lifestyle under the Republican Era of the Turkish Republic. She attended the local Armenian school Esayan. She knew French, Italian, Armenian and Turkish.

Şahinyan's father Mihran was avidly interested in photography. In 1933 he began to work for the Galatasaray Photography Studio in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. In 1936, Maryam's mother Dikranuhi died a sudden death and left the family financially strained. Due to these circumstances, Maryam was forced to dropout of the French School Sainte-Pulchérie she attended in order to help her father out in the studio. By 1937, in order to assist the financial burden of the family, she started managing the studio independently. Maryam Şahinyan managed the studio until 1985.

Maryam Şahinyan died at her home on Hanımefendi Sokak in Şişli in 1996, age 85 years old, and is buried in Şişli Armenian Cemetery. Şahinyan left behind a photographic archive made up of approximately 200,000 images.

Tayfun Serttas, an artist in Istanbul, went through thousands of Sahinyan’s negatives to assemble her first, posthumous exhibition in 2011 at SALT Galata. Highlights from the show with subjects ranging from transgender people, homosexuals and various other queer individuals, members of disenfranchised religious and ethnic groups to wealthy women, identical twins and long-haired beauties.




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