Balkan Peninsula, 1600–1800 A.D.

  • The Vision of Saint John
  • Helmet
  • Part of a valance
  • Pair of bed curtains


1600 A.D.

1650 A.D.

Ottoman empire, ca. 1354–1922

1650 A.D.

1700 A.D.

Ottoman empire, ca. 1354–1922

1700 A.D.

1750 A.D.

Ottoman empire, ca. 1354–1922

1750 A.D.

1800 A.D.

Ottoman empire, ca. 1354–1922


In this period, the Balkans forms a frontier between the Ottoman empire and the European powers against which it is constantly at war. Lengthy conflicts in Venice (1644–69) and against the Habsburgs (1683–99) take their toll on the people and the land, and many Christians flee. High taxes imposed by opportunistic Ottoman governors add to the general economic and social malaise; this period witnesses the first stirrings of Balkan nationalism, forcing governmental reforms in the nineteenth century.

The Ottoman capital of Istanbul (in present-day Turkey) is a thriving art center, where masters of painting and calligraphy as well as architects, sculptors, and producers of textiles and objets d’art in many media serve the court or practice in guilds. The non-Muslim community, although minimized since the Ottoman conquest, actively contributes to the artistic output of the region.

Key Events

  • ca. 1600

    The new tekkes, or dervish lodges, built in Djakovica, Halvetiya, and Prizren indicate the importance of non-Orthodox institutions in spreading Islam to fringe areas of the Ottoman empire.

  • 17th century

    Architecture and the visual arts in Croatia reflect the Baroque style originating in Italy and thriving elsewhere in Europe. This is largely due to Venetian political dominance in the region. The Jesuit church of Saint Catherine (1620–32) is raised in the capital of Zagreb, and recalls another Jesuit structure: the church of Il Gesù in Rome.

  • 17th century

    Metalwork, especially silversmithing, flourishes in Albania. By the following century, Albanian smiths are known for their particularly fine work in filigree.

  • 1639

    The capital of the Balkan province returns to Sarajevo. The city prospers as a stop along the trade routes from Istanbul to Salonika and points further west, to the Adriatic in the south and to Split in the northwest. The traveler Evliya Çelebi, who visits the city in the middle of the century, records the construction of scores of new buildings and a mixed population of Christian, Jews, and Muslims.

  • 1669

    Crete, a Venetian possession since 1204, falls to the Ottomans. This signals the steady decline of the Venetian empire over the rest of this period, culminating in 1797 with the division of its territories between France and Austria as spoils of the French Revolutionary Wars.

  • 1683

    The unsuccessful siege of Vienna forces the Ottomans to slowly retreat from their European provinces, and Austrian troops occupy parts of the Balkans. The Ottoman armies are then defeated at Buda, Belgrade, and Slankamen. Uprisings in the region culminate in the 1688 Hungarian declaration of independence.

  • 1697

    The Austrians occupy and burn Sarajevo.

  • 1699

    In the unfavorable Treaty of Carlowitz, the Ottomans give up lands to Hungary and Austria, setting the borders of what are now the nations of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Muslim refugees from ceded areas stream into Bosnia, and relations between Muslim and non-Muslim populations deteriorate.

  • 18th century

    Painting flourishes in Bulgaria, particularly under two major schools. The Bansko school is led by Toma Vishanov (born ca. 1750), called Molera, whose work is strongly influenced by the Baroque and Rococo style he encountered during his studies in Vienna. Khristo Dimitrov (ca. 1745–1819), a contemporary also trained in Vienna but following a more orthodox style, leads a school in Samokov, near Sofia. The Bansko and Samokov artists design and produce frescoes, icons, and decorative paintings for both ecclesiastical and secular structures.

  • 1721

    The Church of Saint Nicholas is constructed in Voskopojë, Albania. It is among the finest examples of the surge in Christian church-building that occurs during this century with the introduction of Baroque and Neoclassical structural developments and decorative motifs.

  • 1739

    The Ottoman governor of Bosnia successfully leads forces against the Austrians. The treaty signed in this year puts Belgrade back into Ottoman hands.

  • 1750

    Simmering tensions against the Ottoman sultan and rising taxes result in a revolt in Sarajevo.

  • 1788–91

    In another inconclusive war with Austria, Bosnia must once again provide defense of the Ottoman borders.

  • 1797

    French general Napoleon I (1769–1821), having vanquished much of Italy but halted in his progress across the Alps to Vienna, arranges and signs the Treaty of Campo Formio with Count Cobenzl of Austria. By the terms of this treaty, territories occupied by the Venetian empire are divided between the two rival countries. Istria and Dalmatia (in present-day Croatia) are ceded to Austria; the Ionian Islands (in present-day Greece) go to France.


“Balkan Peninsula, 1600–1800 A.D.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2003)