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.


At Prayer - Jean-Léon Gérômemagnifing 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, Signed Luigi Mayer Rom[ano] (Luigi Mayer of Rome Painted it)

Dimensions without the border: 39 x 55 cm - Dimensions with the border: 44 x 60 cm

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, Signed Luigi Mayer Rom[ano] (Luigi Mayer of Rome Painted it)magnifing glass


Signed: F. Zonaro, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions: 36 x 65 cm.

This painting depicts the view of the Bosphorus from Sultantepe, the neighbourhood located on
the hills behind the Üsküdar district in Istanbul. In the background, the Hagia Sophia Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque are seen, both located on the other side of the Bosphorus. In this painting Zonaro has reflected his impressions of Istanbul by including these two major historical monuments in the background, raising above the houses in the middle and its beautiful natural landscape below.

Fausto Zonaro (d. 1929)

Fausto Zonaro was born in Masi, a municipality in the Province of Padua, then part of the Austrian Empire.
He was the eldest child of the mason Maurizio and his wife Elisabetta Bertoncin. Maurizio intended that his
son should also be a mason, yet at a young age, Fausto showed a great ability at drawing. With his parents’ consent, he enrolled first in the Technical Institute in Lendinara, then in the Cignaroli Academy in Verona under Napoleone Nani. Fausto opened a small art school and studio in Venice, but travelled often to Naples as well. He actively displayed works in exhibition and gained the respect of various critics. He painted mainly genre works in oil and watercolour. In 1883 at Milan, he exhibited: Le rivelatrici napoletane; Da Sant’Elmo, and Al Pincio; in Rome, the canvases Passa la vacca; La sofferente; Le cucitrici napoletane, and Il saponaro. In 1884, at Turin: Tempesta; Primo nato; Primo tuono, and the Zoccolaro of Naples; and in 1887 at Venice: In attesa; Al Redentoretto, and Lavoratrice di perle. La casa Camerini of Padua once possessed a banditore; and two canvases: I pigiatori and In medio stat virtus. The turning point in Zonaro’s career occurred however in 1891, when he fell in love with Elisabetta Pante, a pupil of his in Venice, and together they travelled to Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire. They were partly inspired by Edmondo de Amicis’ orientalist travel book Constantinopoli. In 1892, Zonaro and Pante married, and lived in Istanbul in the neighbourhood of Pera. In Istanbul, over time he gained patronage in aristocratic circles. Munir Pasha, the Minister of Protocol, who invited him to visit Yıldız Palace and meet the prestigious local artist Osman Hamdi Bey. He was employed in teaching painting to the Pasha’s wife, and in this way Zonaro and Pante got to know the important artistic figures of Istanbul of that time. In 1896 he was nominated as the court painter (Ottoman Turkish: Ressam-ı Hazret-i Şehriyari) thanks to the intervention of the Russian ambassador who had presented the ruling sultan Abdulhamid II with Zonaro’s work Il reggimento imperiale di Ertugrul sul ponte di Galata (in English: The Imperial Regiment of the Ertugrul on the Galata Bridge), which Abdulhamid II had then purchased. The Sultan later commissioned from Zonaro a series of paintings depicting events in the life of the 15th-century Ottoman sultan, Mehmed II. Holding the position of
court painter, Zonaro viewed himself as the successor to the Venetian painter Gentile Bellini, who had been commissioned by Mehmed II to paint his portrait over 300 years earlier. Also during his stay in Istanbul, Zonaro witnessed the Day of Ashura processions carried out by the Shia Muslims on the 10th of Muharram, and it was the procession of Tatbir that inspired him to paint his renowned painting 10th of Muharram, it was reported that Zonaro said “After witnessing the horripilating procession (of Tatbir) I wish I were able to
meet this man they mourn for”. The “man” Zonaro speaks of indicates to the oppressed grandson of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Hussein ibn Ali. Zonaro remained in Istanbul until 1909, when he returned to Italy following the Young Turk Revolution that overthrew his patron Abdulhamid II and the shift to constitutional monarchy. There would be no Ottoman court painter after him. He settled in Sanremo where
he continued to paint small works depicting the Italian Riviera and the nearby French Riviera until his death.

In 1920 he separated from his wife and began living with his daughter. He died in 1929. He is buried in the Foce Cemetery in Sanremo. On his gravestone, underneath an Ottoman tughra, it states that Zonaro was the court painter of the Ottoman Empire. Zonaro painted portraits, landscapes and historical paintings. It is claimed that “Zonaro was one of those who made a major contribution to the development of Western art in Turkey.” An exhibition of his work in Florence in 1977 received wide acclaim in the art world. Today, most of Zonaro’s works are in Istanbul, and many of them are on display in the city’s leading museums and private collections. His pictures can be found in the state museums of Topkapı Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace, the Istanbul Military Museum as well as the private Sakıp Sabancı Museum and Pera Museum.

Provenance: Private French Collection



Signed: Prieur Bardin, Dated: 1898, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions: 60 x 90 cm.

This painting depicts the view of the Bosphorus as seen from the Atik Valide district in Üsküdar, Istanbul. The mosque in the centre of the composition is the Atik Valide Mosque (The Old Queen Mother’s Mosque), one of the famous Ottoman pious complexes in the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The mosque was built for Nurbanu Sultan, the Venetian-born wife of Sultan Selim II (r. 1566-1574). She was the first Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) that exercised effective rule over the Ottoman Empire from the imperial Harem in the Topkapi Palace. Famous court architect Sinan completed this mosque in 1583, and it was his last major work. The mosque on the far left is the Rum Mehmed Pasha Mosque built by the Grand-Vizier Rum Mehmed Pasha, as his nick-name “Rum” indicates, was of Greek origin. In far distance, on the left, is the Süleymaniye Mosque located on the Süleymaniye hill, on the other side of the Bosphorus. It provides a magnificent view of both the Eastern and the Western shores of the imperial capital with its major historical monuments and wonderful landscape.

François Léon Prieur-Bardin (d. 1939)

French painter François Léon Prieur-Bardin was born in 1870. He travelled and made observations on the rich and vibrant daily life of the Middle East. He worked in Istanbul and painted many masterful paintings depicting the daily life of the imperial capital in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire. He settled in Constantinople from 1890 to 1901. His scenes of Istanbul made his reputation and he exhibited in the galleries of the Pera-Galata district: Gülmez Biraderler, Baker House, Visconti and Stefano’s and New Bazaar. After a fruitful career as an Orientalist painter Prieur-Bardin passed away in 1939.

Provenance: Private French Collection


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

Signed: Walter C Horsley - Dated: (18)94

Oil on Canvas 108 x 87 cm

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

A Portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent, by a Follower of Gentile Bellini

Italy, probably Venice, circa 1520, Dimensions: 32.5 x 28 cm

When he came to power in 1520, Suleyman II inherited a vast empire which encompassed Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the Hijaz, including Mecca and Medina; extending eastwards towards the Caspian Sea, as far North as Vienna and parts of the African coast to the South. As the tenth ruler of the House of Osman, Suleyman quickly became known locally as “Kanuni” ('the Lawgiver'), due to his important legal reformations (E. Atil., The Age of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, 1987, p.18). Also known in Europe as “Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent” due to his prodigious administrative restructuring and keen artistic patronage, Sultan Suleyman was responsible for turning Constantinople (now Istanbul) into an important intellectual centre.

Furthermore, his military conquests and the terror engendered by Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha (Barbarossa) and his fleet in the Mediterranean provoked a fascination with the Sultan and his important Empire. Unlike his great grandfather, Mehmed II, who actually invited European artists to his court to paint depictions of him to be sent out as diplomatic gifts, Suleyman does not seem to have commissioned any portraits. Details of his physical appearance were conveyed to European artists through sketches created by artists who had accompanied foreign embassies to the Ottoman court.

The two earliest known surviving depictions of Suleyman as a young man include a drawing by Albrecht Durer now in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne, France (inv. no. 286/1515, fig.1), and a copper plate print by the Italian lithography master 'A.A' now in the Graphische Samlung Albertina, Vienna (inv. no. AL6 41.54IB), both dated 1526 (Lamberto Donati, “Due Immagini Ignote di Solimano I (1494-1566), in: Studi orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi Della Vida: Volume I, Roma, 1956, pp.219-233).

Scholarly debate has come to the conclusion that these two depictions were probably copied after a “lost model” created just after Sultan Suleyman’s accession to the throne in 1520 (A. Orbay, The Sultan's Portrait: Picturing the House of Osman, Istanbul, 2000, pp.98-99). The present portrait bears striking similarities to both illustrations and it is possible that it may even be the original 'lost' model from which such depictions of the Sultan stemmed. Resemblances in the shape of his turban, the large drooping collar of his robe, his aquiline nose, fine lips and gently protruding chin with a thin moustache and slight delineation of his adam’s apple point towards this connection. Such details are shared on a medal representing Suleyman and inscribed “Solyman – Imp – TVR” in the Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (See Orbay 2000, p.112).

This painting is also inscribed along the bottom frame “Turchorum Imperator Maximus” ('Great Turkish Emperor Suleyman'). This was to be the catchphrase used on further depictions of the Sultan, including in Durer’s drawing and A.A’s copper plate print. Whereas Durer’s drawing condenses it to ‘Suleyman Imperator’, A.A’s copper plate print reads ‘Suleyman Imperator T’ – the ‘T’ most probably standing for Turchorum as in the present painting. In addition, Durer and A.A. have both added the date 1526, which would have held strong symbolic connotations in the minds of a European audience as it was the date that marked the battle of Mohacs, during which forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by the Ottomans.

It is very likely that either Andrea Gritti (1455-1538) or his son Alvise Gritti (1480-1534) was the patron behind this portrait. Before being elected Doge of Venice in 1523, Andrea Gritti spent most of his life in Constantinople as a grain merchant and diplomat looking after Venetian interests. His son, Alvise Gritti was born from a non-Muslim Ottoman woman with whom Andrea had an affair, and played an important political role in the Ottoman state, advising both the Ottoman Sultan and European diplomats. A passionate patron of the arts, Alvise promoted architects and artists such as Jacopo Sansovino and Titian, who also drew a portrait of him. Titian eventually painted four known 'portraits' of Suleyman (see J.M. Rogers and R.M. Ward, Suleyman the Magnificent, exhib. cat. British Museum, London, 1998, p. 46 note 4 and H.E. Wethey, loc. cit.). Suleyman would have been far too grand to sit for the attendants of the ambassadors and other foreigners he received, which is why Alvise, who had artists around him and who received visits from the Sultan, may indeed be the patron behind this particular work.

In 1941, this painting entered the Contini Bonacossi collection, and notes accompanying the entry in the collection record the observations by leading historians of the time such as Longhi, Fiocco, Van Marle and Pope Hennessy. Whereas Longhi attributes it to Bellini himself, Fiocco describes it as a “school work but not too distant from the hand of the master himself”. Indeed, one can sense the artist’s subtle technique in the modelling of the face and clothing of the Sultan.

Both from a historical and art-historical point of view, the present portrait is a landmark. Not only is it one of the few Western images of an Eastern potentate done by a European artist, but it probably also served as a primary source of inspiration for many later portraits, drawings, prints and medals of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.

A Portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent, by a Follower of Gentile Bellinimagnifing glass


A Portrait of Sultan Bayezid I

School of Veronese, Italy, Circa 1580, Dimensions: 68 x 51 cm

Sultan Bayezid I (r.1389-1402), also known as Yildirım ('The Thunderbolt'), was the fourth ruler of the Ottoman Empire. During his reign, he expanded his empire into the Balkans and Anatolia, defeating a Christian army to secure his position in the region. His attempt to further increase Ottoman prestige by engaging in the Battle of Ankara led to his demise following his defeat in 1402 at the hands of Timur’s forces.

The present portrait of the Sultan, depicted in three-quarter view looking over his shoulder and wearing a large turban and richly embroidered cloak, was directly influenced by a painting of Bayezid by Paolo Caliari, called Paolo Veronese, now housed in the Collection Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich (inv. no.2243) (R. Kultzen and P. Eikemeier, Venezianische Gemalde des 15. Und 16. Jahrhunderts, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, München, 1971, pp.236-9). The discovery of the present painting is important as it re-emphasises the significance of Veronese’s original series of fourteen portraits of Ottoman Sultans, all now in Munich, which inspired the creation of at least three, if not more, subsequent sets which were painted between the late sixteenth to nineteenth century. For example, a print of Sultan Bayezid engraved by Franz Xavier Jungwierth in 1766, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no. SP.180:64), is described as ‘after a drawing by Veronese’, further highlighting the connection between the artist’s original painting and the artworks which followed it.

Europe’s fascination with its powerful, Muslim neighbours inspired a wave of accounts and paintings of the Ottoman world. The taking of Constantinople in 1453 by the young Mehmet II ('The Conqueror’) not only sparked this interest, but the young Sultan himself, who invited European painters to his court, further fuelled this fashion. The period following his reign saw relations between the Republic of Venice and its powerful neighbour reach a state of relative calm, initiating a period of exchange and trade.

Paintings served as important diplomatic gifts. Notable are a set of portraits now in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul which were shipped from Venice to Istanbul in September 1779. These were most likely the result of a request by the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, who was interested in establishing a local genealogy of the Sultans, to Niccolò Barbarigo, the Venetian ambassador in Constantinople, for such works. Mehmed Pasha must have been aware of the existence of such a series in Venice, as established after the Venetian ‘embassy’ to Istanbul in 1579 (J. Raby, ‘From Europe to Istanbul’, exh. cat. The Sultan’s portrait: picturing the house of Osman, Topkapı Palace Museum, Istanbul, 6 June – 6 September 2000, Istanbul, Işbank, 2000, pp.136-163).

Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), the Italian historian and biographer, is also known to have owned a series of portraits of Ottoman Sultans that he commissioned after a group of miniatures which Barbarossa, Suleyman the Magnificent’s admiral, gifted to a French commander in token of gratitude in 1453. Only one painting of this series still exists, depicting Sultan Mehmed I (now in the Museo Archeologicao, Como). Contemporary copies of Giovio’s series were painted by Cristofano de’Altissimo for the Duke Cosimo of Medici (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. 5182), as well as woodcuts by Tobias Stimmer produced for the publisher Pietro Perna (published as ‘Elogia Virorum Bellica virtute Illustrium’) (see G. Le Thiec, 'L'entrée des Grands Turcs dans le Museo de Paolo Giovio' in Mélanges de l'Ecole française de Rome, Italie et Méditerranée, 1992, Vol.104, pp.781-830, No.2).

Whereas in the Giovio series, the Sultans appear to be represented from the side, in the present painting, the subject holds a cross-shoulder glance pose in the manner of the great masters Giorgione and Titian. Veronese was known for his interest in foreigners, possibly developing the idea of a set of Ottoman Sultans for himself. When Bayezid died in 1403, Veronese would have been free in his choice of representation. An interesting detail shared by the present painting and the Munich work is the flap of fabric ending in a single pearl which hangs down from the turban. This detail may have been accidentally or intentionally re-interpreted by Veronese from a printed image of the Sultan published by Guillaume Rouillé in Lyon in 1553 (Promtuarii Iconum Insignorium) and Francesco Sansovino in 1571 (History of the Ottomans), of which Veronese would have been aware and in which Bayezid wears a helmet in which his ears are covered by a mail curtain resembling pearls.

In addition to the complete sets in Munich and Istanbul, two fragmentary sets of Sultan portraits exist in the Topkapi Palace, as discussed by Filiz Çağman (F. Çağman, ‘Portrait Series of Nakkas Osman’ in The Sultan’s Portrait: picturing the house of Osman, exh. cat., Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, 6 June – 6 September 2000, Istanbul, Işbank, 2000, pp.174-5). In both cases the painting of Bayezid is preserved, making it unlikely that the present example formed part of either. However, Çağman also mentions four more royal portraits after the Veronese series which were donated or purchased from Dr. F.R. Martin, the Swedish collector, in 1929, for the Topkapi Palace Museum collection (ibid, p.175). It is therefore possible, though as yet unproven, that the present painting came from the same series as those once owned by Dr F.R.Martin.

A Portrait of Sultan Bayezid Imagnifing glass


The Fall of Constantinople

Italy, probably Venice, late 15th/early 16th Century, Dimensions: 95 x 138 cm

The Fall of Constantinople depicts a highly important moment in the history of the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe. The capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottomans under the command of twenty-one year-old Sultan Mehmed II and against the defending army of Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, changed the course of history. In reference to the city of Constantinople, the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have said in a hadith the following words: "Verily, Constantinople shall be conquered, its commander shall be the best commander ever and his army shall be the best army ever." The siege which lasted from 6 April to 29 May 1453, led to the capture of the city and marked the end of the Roman Empire, an imperial state which had lasted for nearly fifteen centuries.

The conquest was a significant blow to Christendom, and the Ottomans thereafter were free to advance into Europe. Following the capture of the city, Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1444-46/1451-81) 'The Conqueror', made Constantinople the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Several Greek and non-Greek intellectuals fled the city before and after the siege, migrating particularly to Italy and it is argued that they helped fuel the Renaissance. Some also mark the date of the fall of the city and the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire as the closing of the Middle Ages.

The present painting is an extremely rare and important late fifteenth/early sixteenth century representation of Constantinople. The composition includes all the major monuments of the Byzantine city, most importantly the Hagia Sophia Church and the Hippodrome in the centre, with the Aqueduct of Valens in the background. Parts of Galata district appear on the right and the Vianga harbour on the lower left corner. Turkish vessels can be identified from their banners with a white crescent on a red background. Byzantine vessels as well as the vessels of those defending the city including the Venetians, Genoese, Cretans, Anconians, Aragonians and the French are also visible in the Golden Horn, positioned behind the chain which was placed at the mouth of the harbour to prevent the Turkish ships from entering. The Turkish flags can also be seen flying above a small postern gate, the Kerko-porta (‘Belgrad Kapisi’) and the towers of the Golden Gate (‘Yedikule’). As these flags as well as the smoke over the city indicate, the painting appears to be a representation of the actual day the city fell, 29 May 1453.

This painting is closely related to a small and highly important group of late fifteenth-century maps illustrating Constantinople topographically, particularly those in Christopher Boundelmonti’s (c. 1480) Liber Insularum Archipelagi, produced between 1430 and 1480 and now preserved in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. The city’s monuments and overall appearance share common features with the maps in Liber Insularum, which must have been the ultimate source of inspiration for this painting. Earlier copies of this manuscript, dating from the first half of the fifteenth century, include few representations of Constantinople that predate the city’s siege and capture by the Ottomans. There is no recorded fifteenth or early sixteenth-century oil on canvas portraying the fall of the city, making the present work an extremely rare and historically important document.

The Fall of Constantinoplemagnifing glass


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

Watercolour - 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 (d. 1872)magnifing glass


The Süleymaniye Mosque In Istanbul - Amadeo Preziosi

Watercolour - 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 - Amadeo Preziosimagnifing glass



London, William Bulmer & Co., Dated 1815, Thirty Mezzotint Prints Coloured by Hand, Dimensions: 58 x 44 cm.

Published in 1815 by British Printmaker John Young, the appointed mezzotint engraver to the Prince of Wales. The artist’s inspiration was the gouache portraits by Ottoman court painter Kostantin Kapıdağlı, in the Topkapi Palace. This is a series of thirty mezzotint prints, coloured by hand, including portraits of Ottoman sultans with background information about their reigns, in chronological order. The names of the parents of each sultan, of his male heirs, his age at accession and at death and the length of each reign are indicated. The album serves as a handy guide to the principal events of the reign of each Ottoman sultan.

Mary Robert in her article “Divided Objects of Empires: Ottoman Iperial Portraiture and Transcultural Aesthetics” (Transculturation in British Art 1770-1930, ed. Julie F. Codell, pp. 159-175) sheds light to the production of this famous and important album. According to Mary Robert: “Among many portraits of the Ottoman sultans commissioned from foreign artists, one of the most influential is the one that incorporated portraits of the sultans from the founding of the dynasty to the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, published in 1815 and known as the Young Album.” The circumstances of this album’s initial commission make it a compelling example of the ideal collection of Ottoman sultans’ portraits. “It was with the Young Album that the mobility of Ottoman royal portraits improved. To date, analyses of Ottoman royal portraiture have charted the iconographic innovations that unfolded across time within this long-standing tradition. The use of the sultans’ portraits as gifts to European rulers in the context of the Ottoman Empire’s new policy of participation within the European diplomatic arena might have been one of the reasons behind the imperial commission. 

In 1806 the British printmaker John Young was approached by Mr. Green from the Levant Company
to undertake an unusual commission—a series of twenty-eight mezzotint prints, portraits of the Ottoman sultans from the founding of the empire up to the present day. His client was the reigning Ottoman ruler, Sultan Selim III. The sultan was the project’s guiding force. Young received instructions that a limited number of prints were to be taken from his plates and “every possible secrecy was to be observed during the progress of the work.” In accepting this commission Young worked from the gouache portraits by an Ottoman court painter Kostantin Kapıdağlı, that were supplied to him by the Ottoman palace, and he was instructed to submit a sample of his work for the sultan’s approval before beginning the larger project. Young first submitted the print and engraved plate of the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, Sultan Osman I. Both plate and print remain in the Topkapı Palace collection. Once they were received, the approval of the sultan was granted, and Young proceeded to make the other plates. The Young Album was a project in which Selim III utilized print technology to disseminate his dynasty’s representation abroad.

Thus the sultan’s agenda of military reform, designed to ensure the maintenance of the empire’s territorial integrity, is framed and authorized by geographic signifiers of his dual roles as sultan and caliph. This project celebrating the dynasty with representations of its successive rulers is situated within a centuries-old tradition of Ottoman imperial portrait albums. Kostantin Kapıdağlı’s portraits, on which Young’s engravings are based, are situated within this long-standing court tradition; its portrait iconography draws on earlier Ottoman precedents. Kapıdağlı introduces European portrait conventions in features such as the standing, rather than the traditional seated, enthroned pose. The first group of portraits represent the consolidation of the dynasty through military triumphs in the empire’s expansionary stage. The major territorial gains are represented in the vignettes of the sultans. The last three of Kapıdağlı’s portraits shift away from this emphasis on territorial conquest, presenting instead the military reform agendas of Mustafa III (r.1757–74), Abdülhamid I (r.1774–89), and Selim III (r.1789–1807) through symbols of worldly knowledge and scientific inquiry, edifices of naval pedagogical innovation, and military dress reform in their respective vignettes.

The initial purpose of the Young Album was to create an historical dimension, enshrining the legitimacy of the reigning sultan by asserting the longevity of this powerful dynasty. Given this, it is highly significant that despite the intention of its commissioner Selim III, the Young Album was never to fulfill its purpose as a gift to foreign powers. As a tool of diplomatic negotiation, the album was set aside, and due to internal political struggles it was not completed during Selim III’s lifetime. John Young was still working on the prints in London when Sultan Selim III was deposed in 1807. It was not until 1815 that the project was completed. Multiple copies were delivered to Sultan Mahmud II and eighty of them remain in the Topkapı Palace archives in Istanbul. In an effort to bring the project up to date, Young included portraits of Selim III’s two successors, Mustafa IV (r.1807–8) and Mahmud II (r.1808–39). One of the most remarkable chapters in the album’s later history was the reproduction of its portrait pages as cartes de visite first produced by court photographers, the Abdullah Frères, in the early 1860s. This is a very rare and fine copy of the Young Album, particularly interesting for the well-preserved vibrant colours on each portrait.

Provenance: Private UK Collection



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

Watercolour - 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 Cairomagnifing glass



France, Signed: Gastauls, 19th Century, Dimensions: 18.5 x 16.4 cm.

Gouache on ivory, in silver frame with a border comprising triangular mother of pearl panels with foliate engravings, surmounted by two confronted doves atop openwork scrolls, backed with tortoiseshell. La Grande Odalisque (The Grand Odalisque) is an oil painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, depicting an odalisque, or concubine. The painting was commissioned by Napoleon’s sister, Queen Caroline Murat of Naples, and finished in 1814. Ingres’ contemporaries considered the work to signify Ingres’ break from Neoclassicism, indicating a shift toward exotic Romanticism. It belongs to the first phase of Orientalist art which resulted from Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt and Syria in 1798-1801, and publication of Description de l’Egypte between 1809 and 1829. The work is on display in the Louvre, Paris. Ingres drew upon works such as Dresden Venus by Giorgione, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino as inspiration for his reclining nude figure, though the actual pose of a reclining figure looking back over her shoulder is drawn from the 1809 Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David.

Provenance: Private UK Collection




Signed: A. Mayer, Dated: (18)61, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions: 24 x 40 cm.

This painting depicts the view of the Bosphorus. The mosque on the left is the Yeni Mosque in Eminönü. In the middle, there are various ships and vessels carrying people between the Eastern and Western shores of the Bosphorus. In this painting Mayer has created an atmospheric depiction of Istanbul by painting the reflection of light on the Bosphorus in the center, contrasted by the dreamy clouds and the background uniting the blue sea and the green hills on both sides. A comparable oil painting by Auguste Mayer, depicting the shores of the Bosphorus, is published in Frédéric Hitzel’s Les Orientalistes – Couleurs de la Corne d’Or, ACR Edition, Paris, 2002, p. 180-181. For an interior scene depicting an Ottoman coffee-house in Istanbul Ibid, p. 183.

August Étienne François Mayer (d. 1890)

Auguste Étienne François Mayer was a French painter. He was born in 1805 in Brest, in the Finistère département in Brittany, France. He was specialised in naval scenes, particularly battle scenes and harbours. He started exhibiting his works in private and public exhibitions in 1824. He participated several arctic expeditions and reflected his impressions in his art. He travelled extensively to Turkey, Egypt, the Netherlands and Sweden. He was celebrated for his painting depicting a fountain on the shores of the Bosphorus, exhibited in 1844. Mayer was appointed professor and taught drawing at the École Navale. His celebrated work The Navarine Battle is in the Musée de la Marine, Paris. The same museum houses another famous work by him, The Trafalgar Battle. He died in 1890 in Brest. For further information please see Frédéric Hitzel’s Les Orientalistes – Couleurs de la Corne d’Or, ACR Edition, Paris, 2002, p. 318

Provenance: Private French Collection