At Prayer - Jean-Léon Gérôme

Signed: J. L. Gérôme upper right on the beam
Oil on Canvas 23 x 34 cm

Born in France, Gérôme was one of the most famous painters in the world in the second half of the 19th century. In the early stages of his career he painted scenes of ancient Greece and Rome.

In 1856 He visited Egypt for the first time, spending four months. He stayed in a house lent to him by French-born Egyptian commander Suleyman Pasha al-Faransawi (d. 1860). He would go on to visit Turkey, Egypt, Palastine, Greece, Algiers in later years.

His work is characterized by high finish, and extreme attention to detail. This can even be observed in his rendering of Arabic calligraphy in his paintings, something that is neglected by other orientalist painters.

Gérôme was married to Marie Goupil (1842-1912), the daughter of an influential dealer who distributed engravings of his paintings, and facilitated their sale to collectors, especially in the United States. This is the reason so many of Gérôme’s paintings, including the present one, are provenance to the USA.

In 1864 Gérôme was invited by the French government to be one of the teachers at the newly opened Paris School of Fine Arts. He worked there as a professor for nearly forty years. He had approximately two thousand students, a number of which also became orientalists. These include Albert Aublet, Eugene Girardet, Jean Lecomte du Nouy, Auguste Emile Pinchart, Henri Rousseau, Theodore Ralli, Arthur Frederick Bridgman, Edwin Lord Weeks, as well as the Turkish painters Osman Hamdy and Halil Pasha.

Another Cairo mosque interior by Gérôme, the Mosque of Amr, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Please see Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Leon Gerome, ACR, Paris, 2000, col. pl. p. 105 (cat. no. 200). Interestingly, this painting has similar columns with Corinthian capitals to our painting, as well as criss-cross beams.

Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme , London, 1986, p. 294, no. 511, p. 295; Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Monographie révisée, Catalogue raisonné mis à jour , Paris, 2000, p. 366, no. 511, p. 367.


Jean-Léon Gérôme - At Prayer magnifing glass

English Ambassador Sir Robert Ainslie (1730-1804) In The Presence Of Sultan Abdulhamid I (R. 1774-1789) In The Imperial Council In The Topkapi Palace

The title written under the painting is ‘SALA DEL DIVAN DOVE IL G. VIZIR TRATTA CON PRANZO PRIMA D’INTRODURLO ALL’ UDIENZA DEL GRAND SIG.’ (The Divan hall in which the Grand Vizier held lunch in the presence of the Sultan)

The Divan-ı Hümayun, in English the Imperial Council, was the de facto cabinet of the Ottoman Empire for most of its history. Initially an informal gathering of the senior ministers presided over by the Sultan in person, in the mid-15th century the Council's composition and function became firmly regulated. The Grand Vizier, who became the Sultan's deputy as the head of government, assumed the role of chairing the Council, which comprised also the other viziers, charged with military and political affairs, the two kadi-askers or military judges, the defterdars in charge of finances, the nişancı in charge of the palace scribal service, and later the Kapudan Pasha, the head of the Ottoman Navy, and occasionally the beylerbeyi of Rumelia and the Agha of the Janissaries. The Council met in a dedicated building in the second courtyard of the Topkapi Palace, initially daily, then for four days a week by the 16th century. Its remit encompassed all matters of governance of the Empire, although the exact proceedings are no longer known. It was assisted by an extensive secretarial bureaucracy under the reis ül-küttab for the drafting of appropriate documents and the keeping of records. The Imperial Council remained the main executive organ of the Ottoman state until the mid-17th century, after which it lost most of its power to the office of the Grand Vizier. With the Tanzimat reforms of the early 19th century, it was eventually succeeded by a Western-style cabinet government. In the present painting, the figure of the Sultan, listening to the discussions below, can be seen behind the grilled window. On either sides of the window are the framed tughras, the imperial monograms of the Sultan. In the foreground is a servant preparing coffee. In the background there are members of a European commission, possible French diplomats, discussing stately matters with the Ottoman high ranking bureaucrats.

Luigi Mayer (d. 1803) Born in 1755, Luigi Mayer was an Italian-German artist and one of the earliest and most important late 18th-century European painters of the Ottoman Empire. He was a close friend of Sir Robert Ainslie, British ambassador to Turkey between 1776 and 1792, and the bulk of his paintings and drawings during this period were commissioned by Ainslie. Briony Llewellyn, in her insgihtful article on Luigi Mayer’s art ‘The Empire Unvarnished’ (Cornucopia, Issue 53, 2015, pp. 48-63) wrote ‘When Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, was appointed ambassador to the Ottoman Porte in 1799, he saw it as an opportunity to record and acquire fine examples of classical antiquities from Greece (hence the Elgin Marbles). To this end he sought advice from one of his predecessors, Sir Robert Ainslie, on the terms of employment for an artist he wished to hire as his draughtsman. Ainslie’s response was that he had paid his artist 50 guineas a year, with board and travelling expenses, and “It was clearly understood that the whole of his works, drawings, pictures and sketches were to remain with me, as being my sole property.” Ainslie’s artist is not named in the correspondence, but, from the remarkable watercolours that he produced, we know that he was Luigi Mayer (c1750/55–1803), who worked for the ambassador in Istanbul from probably 1786 until 1794, accompanying his patron on his return to England. Despite his large output of images depicting Istanbul and its environs, as well as the wider Ottoman Empire, Mayer’s name is known only to a handful of collectors, and then in large part thanks to the volumes of aquatints published after his original work. The artist Elgin eventually hired, Giovanni Battista Lusieri (1754–1821), was renowned during his lifetime, but until recently he too was unfamiliar to all but a few specialists. His name is now re-emerging from the obscurity into which it had fallen since his death, thanks to recent scholarly attention and to an exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2012.’ Mayer appears to have received his artistic training in Rome, often signing his work Luigi

Mayer Romano, and was reputed to have been a pupil of Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Evidence of a formal association with the celebrated Italian artist has not come to light, but there is no doubt that Mayer’s work draws heavily on the example of his more famous predecessor, and in particular the series of 135 etchings, Vedute di Roma, that Piranesi produced from around 1748 until his death 30 years later. The combination of crumbling ancient monuments, encroaching nature and lively local figures, within compositions of sometimes startling perspectives, that characterises Piranesi’s work exerted a powerful influence on Mayer. So too did Piranesi’s practice, followed by numerous vedutisti, or painters of views, of integrating text and image by including not merely the title ω itself but an elegant, almost poetic explanation of salient elements in the view. By the early 1770s Mayer was in the employ of a Sicilian scholar and collector of antiquities the Principe di Biscari, in Catania. He remained in Sicily until the prince’s death in 1786, meeting some of the northern European travellers who came to explore the island, attracted by its wild landscape, erupting volcanoes and well-preserved Greek temples. How and when he came to the notice of Sir Robert Ainslie is another of the missing pieces in the jigsaw of Mayer’s life, but it may have been through the mediation of another Italian, the numismatist and antiquarian Domenico Sestini, author of numerous travel accounts, who was also employed by both Biscari and Ainslie. It was common practice in the 18th and early 19th centuries for ambassadors and wealthy travellers to employ artists to accompany them abroad. In an age before photography, visual records of significant events and places were as important as textual documentation as markers of authority or achievement. Ainslie was not alone among diplomats in Istanbul in employing an artist to record the events of his office; as Philip Mansel, author of Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire, has noted, the city inspired an unusual number of “embassy pictures”. Mayer’s best-known predecessor as an “embassy artist” was Jean-Baptiste Vanmour, who arrived in Istanbul in 1699 in the suite of the Marquis de Ferriol and spent the next four decades recording both the life and costumes of the city as well as successive sultans’ official reception of several European ambassadors. The brothers Gustaf and Ulrik Celsing, Swedish diplomats in the mid-18th century, commissioned a large collection of images, including some extensive views of the city and its shoreline. Ainslie’s French opposite number and rival for influence at the court, the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, also employed two artists, Jean-Baptiste Hilaire and Louis-François Cassas. While the two ambassadors jockeyed for position, promoting the interests of their respective countries, these artists, although employed in a private capacity, produced images that played their part in the tangled web of political intrigue. Mayer’s work is unusual, Llewellyn remarks, not for his sweeping city panoramas and his recording of official occasions, magnificent as these are, but for his documentation of the more domestic aspects of Ainslie’s residency and for his charmingly bucolic renditions of life outside the city. He thus visually underlines for Ainslie’s contemporaries and successors the familiarity with Ottoman life for which the British ambassador was noted. Mayer travelled extensively through the Ottoman Empire between 1776 and 1794, and became well known for his sketches and paintings of panoramic landscapes of ancient sites from the Balkans to the Greek Islands, Turkey and Egypt, particularly ancient monuments and the Nile. His images reached a wider audience during the first decade of the 19th century when they were published as aquatints in a series of volumes under various titles, such as Views in Egypt, Palestine and other Parts of the Ottoman Empire (1801-04). Many of his works were amassed in Ainslie's collection, which was later presented to the British Museum, providing a remarkable insight into the Middle East of that period. He passed away in 1803. For comparable Istanbul scenes by Luigi Mayer from the British Museum and the Ömer M. Koç Collection please see Briony Llewellyn’s article ‘The Empire Unvarnished’ (Cornucopia, Issue 53, 2015, pp. 48, 49, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59).

Provenance: Private UK Collection

English Ambassador Sir Robert Ainslie (1730-1804) In The Presence Of Sultan Abdulhamid I (R. 1774-1789) In The Imperial Council In The Topkapi Palace magnifing glass

The Coffee Shop - Walter Charles Horsley (1855-1934)

Signed: Walter C Horsley
Dated: (18)94
Oil on Canvas 108 x 87 cm

Walter Charles Horsley (1855-1934) - The Coffee Shop magnifing glass

The Büyük Selimiye Mosque In Istanbul - After Thomas Allom (d. 1872)

19th Century
Dimensions: 61 x 87 cm

The painting depicts an important Ottoman monument; the Büyük Selimiye Mosque in Istanbul, situated in the district of Üsküdar, across the Imperial Selimiye barracks. The mosque was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Selim III (r. 1789–1807) and completed in 1801. The Büyük Selimiye Mosque features European architectural elements, consists of a wide courtyard and four entrances. After the completion of the mosque, the minarets were thought to be too thick, and later slenderized. The diameter of the dome is 14.6 meters. The main dome has five windows and is supported by four half domes. The Mosque has a time-keeping house (muvakkithane) for keeping prayer times and a water fountain and houses masterpieces of carpentry and marble work. An identical composition of the Büyük Selimiye Mosque, drawn by Thomas Allom, is published in Thomas Allom’s Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, Vol. I, p. 74. This directly links the present painting to a follower of Thomas Allom. Allom was an English architect, artist, and topographical illustrator. He was a founding member of what became the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). He designed many buildings in London, including the Church of St Peter’s and parts of the elegant Ladbroke Estate in Notting Hill. He also worked with Sir Charles Barry on numerous projects, most notably the Houses of Parliament, and is also known for his numerous topographical works, such as Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, published in 1838, and China Illustrated, published in 1845.

Provenance: Private Italian Collection

The Büyük Selimiye Mosque In Istanbul After Thomas Allom magnifing glass


The Süleymaniye Mosque In Istanbul - Amadeo Preziosi

Signed and Dated 1852
Height: 35 cm - Width: 53.5 cm

In the present painting, Count Amadeo Preziosi depicted one of the outstanding historical monuments of Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Mosque. This imperial mosque was built on the order of Sultan Süleyman I also known as Süleyman the Magnificent, by the genius architect Mimar Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1557.

As has been beautifully depicted by the artist, the mosque combines tall, slender minarets with a large central dome supported by half domes with direct reference to the great Byzantine church of Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia. The design of the Süleymaniye plays on the Sultan’s self-conscious representation of himself as the 'second Solomon'. It references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, as well as Justinian's boast upon the completion of the Hagia Sophia: "Solomon, I have surpassed thee! ". For comparable watercolours by Preziosi, please see the exhibition catalogue Amadeo Preziosi.


Amadeo Preziosi was born in 1816 to a noble family in Malta. His father, Giovanni Francesco Preziosi had high-level functions in the local administration and represented the Maltese people at the negotiations of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, while his mother, Margareta née Reynaud was of French origin. Amadeo, the first child of the Preziosi family, was baptised in thePorto Salvo Church in Valletta and given the name Aloysius-Rosarius-Amadeus-Raymundus-Andreas. Amadeo was attracted by the arts from early age and was taught by Giuseppe Hyzler, a very appreciated painter in Malta. While his father wanted Amadeo to study law, sending him to study at the Law School in Sorbonne, Amadeo was more interested in arts and continues his painting studies at the École des Beaux-Arts.

After his return home, Amadeo did not find in Malta a suitable environment for an artist, especially since his father disapproved his chosen career. As such, Amadeo chose to leave the island and move to Near East, an area lauded by the fellow artists in Paris. The year when he left Malta for Istanbul is not known, but is thought to be between 1840 and 1842. The earliest drawings of Istanbul are dated November 1842. Two years later, in 1844, Preziosi was commissioned by Robert Curzon, the private secretary of the British Ambassador to Istanbul, Lord Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe to create an album called Costumes of Constantinople, which now is located in the collections of the British Museum.
In 1858, he decided to publish the most popular works as lithographs at the Lemercier workshop in Paris. The chromolithography album,named Stamboul, Recollections of Eastern Life and re-edited in 1861 as Stamboul, Souvenir d'Orient was drawn on the lithography stone the by Preziosi himself. He published a second album, Souvenir du Caïre, comprising drawings he made during a trip to Egypt. Preziosi married a Greek woman of Istanbul, with whom he had four children: Mathilde, Giulia, Catherine and Roberto, living in Hamalbaşi Sokagi in Pera and later in the quiet village of San Stefano (today Yeşilköy), away from the agitation of the city.

Preziosi was proficient in the languages of the region (Greek and Turkish), as well as major European languages (English, French, Italian) and he worked as deputy of the dragoman of the British Embassy as well as the First Dragoman of the Greek legation. His workshop was routinely visited by tourists wishing to return home with a souvenir of Istanbul, and among his guests was, in April 1869, Edward VII of the United Kingdom, then the Prince of Wales, who bought several watercolours from him. In 1866, as the new Prince of Romania, Carol I visited Istanbul, he met Preziosi and invited him to Romania to make watercolours of the landscapes and people of the country.

Preziosi came to Romania in June 1868 and began drawing scenes from Bucharest as well as several others across the country, including a few which depict Prince Carol I. The sketches he drew were later turned into watercolours in his workshop in Istanbul, which he would then sell to the Prince of Romania for prices ranging from 300 to 1200 Francs. The following year, between May 30 and July 15, Preziosi spent time again in Romania, his drawings, in pencil, ink and watercolours are found in a sketchbook. La Valachie par Preziosi, now found at the Municipal Museum in Bucharest. After his return from his last trip to Romania, little is known of Preziosi. He continued his art in Istanbul. He was buried in the Catholic cemetery of Yeşilköy, Istanbul.

The Süleymaniye Mosque In Istanbul By Amadeo Preziosi magnifing glass


An Impressive View Of The Mosque Of Al-mouristan From The Complex Of Sultan Al-mansur Qalawun In Cairo

Signed and Dated: 1872
Dimensions: Unframed: 66 x 101 cm Framed: 128 x 92 cm

The Mamluk Mosque al-Mouristan of the complex of Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun in Cairo

Attached to the Mouristan of the complex of Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun, the present monument is the mosque of one of the most famous Mamluk architectural complexes in Cairo. It is located in the heart of the city, on the Mu‘iz al-Din lillah street. The complex consists of a mausoleum, a madrasa and a hospital. It reportedly took thirteen months to build, from 1284-1285. This fact is remarkable considering the sheer size and scope of the total complex. The hospital took less than six months to complete, the mausoleum and madrasa each taking about four months. The building project was supervised by the Mamluk amir ‘Alam al-Din Sinjar al-Shaja‘i, who forcefully employed hundreds of Mongol prisoners of war, calling upon workers throughout Fustat and Cairo to aid in the project. The Complex was considered one of the most beautiful buildings at that time, where it included a school (Madrasa), a hospital (Bimaristan) and a mausoleum. Historians claim that the columns holding the mausoleum structure were made of granite, marble, and other materials that were taken from another palace in Rhoda island. The complex was built in three stages, where the Hospital was finished first, the Mausoleum the second and then finally the school. The structure was restored several times in the reign of al-Nasir Muhammad, the son and successor of Sultan Qalawun. He restored the minarets after a strong earthquake occurred in 1327. The complex is still visited and revered by general public as one of the highlights of Mamluk architecture of Cairo.

Carl Werner (d. 1894)
Born in Weimar, in 1808, Carl Werner studied painting under Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld in Leipzig. He switched to studying architecture in Munich from 1829 to 1831, but thereafter returned to painting. He won a scholarship to travel to Italy, where he ended up founding a studio in Venice and remaining there until the 1850s, making a name for himself as a watercolor painter. He exhibited around Europe, in particular traveling often to England, where he exhibited at the New Watercolour Society.

He traveled through Spain in 1856 and 1857, and then in Egypt and Palestine from 1862 to 1864. Particularly notable were his watercolors in Jerusalem, where he was one of the few non-Muslims able to gain access to paint the interior of the Dome of the Rock. He published some watercolors from this trip in 1875 as Carl Werner's Nile Sketches. He later traveled to Greece and Sicily, and became a professor at the Leipzig Academy. He passed away in Leipzig in 1894. His well-known works include “Venice in her Zenith and Decline,” “The Ducal Palace, with a Scene from the Merchant of Venice,” “The Triumphal Procession of Doge Cantarini”, “The Zisa Hall in Palermo,” “The Lions' Court of the Alhambra,” and “Jerusalem and the Holy Land”. A comparable view of the Mosque al-Mouristan by Carl Werner is published in Les Orientalistes des Écoles Allemande et Autrichienne, 2000, p. 168. For other published works of the artist see; Les Orientalistes des Écoles Allemande et Autrichienne, 2000, pp. 158-173.

An Impressive View Of The Mosque Of Al-mouristan From The Complex Of Sultan Al-mansur Qalawun In Cairo magnifing glass