An introduction to Orientalist painting Curator Julia Tugwell takes a closer look at the art movement of Orientalism, and the way in which North Africa and the Middle East were often represented as lands of beauty and intrigue by Western artists. Oil on canvas, — The Orientalist art movement reached its height during the 19th century and is perhaps best known today for its production of impressive oil paintings and works on paper. These paintings were popular in the 19th century, as Europeans and North Americans increasingly turned their attentions to cultures overseas. The works were mostly by male Western artists, made to satisfy an enormous public interest in the lands of the Middle East and North Africa. Many artists travelled to the places they depicted, whether Constantinople, Jerusalem, Cairo or Marrakesh.
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Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Born at Carlsruhe in , Melling studied under his uncle Joseph, a painter at Strasbourg Academy and later joined his brother, an engineer in Klagenfurt, Carinthia where he studied Mathematics and Architecture. From his base in the city he journeyed to the islands of the archipelago into Asia Minor and the Crimea. His close relationship to the Ottoman Court gave him privileged access not normally afforded to commoners let alone Europeans thus allowing him the opportunity to record an intimate picture of the Ottoman city and its society.
In Melling returned to Paris and began sourcing subscribers for what would become the monumental Voyage pittoresque. However, it is for the work on his beloved Constantinople that Melling is best remembered. Regarded in both the West and the East as one of the grandest and most beautiful works of the city, it can be said that Melling saw the city as an Ottoman but painted it as a European, expressing a lovely balance of adoration and artistic skill that renders this work without rival.
Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. The Armoury Hagia Irene and the Mint to the right. In the foreground is the artist conferring with locals as he sketches. Tophana: Panorama of the artillery arsenal and canon foundry destroyed by fire in View showing the accompaniment of courtiers to the cortege of a European Embassy in audience with the Sultan, looking towards the Gate of Felicity which leads to the Third, or Inner, court.
Panorama from the Sea of Marmara: Showing the coastline from the Chateau of the Seven Towers to the Escurial with galleons on approach. Dardanelles: Panoramic view of the Straits connecting the Mediterranean with the Sea of Marmara, with the coasts of the peninsulas of Gallipoli and Troas.
The Western party in the fore may be a reference to the Russo-Turkish War in which the Ottomans were supported by the French and British. The islands served as an exile for royals for both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Share this:.
Antoine Ignace Melling
After the death of his sculptor father, he lived with his painter uncle, Joseph Melling , in Strassbourg Alsace. As a young man he visited his older brother, and studied Architecture and Mathematics at Klagenfurt. Delighted with the result, she asked Melling to redecorate the palace interior, and subsequently, a completely new neoclassical palace at Defterdarburnu. He also designed clothes and jewellery for her. He became more familiar with the Ottoman palace than any Western artist since Gentile Bellini. He was rightly known as "the unrivalled painter of the Bosphorus". As stated in an anonymous travelogue written in about , "Sometimes these pictures contain an excessive amount of detail in an endeavour to reflect the reality but they depict the modern buildings and landscapes of this city, every view of which is attractive, in a manner more successful than that achieved in the most sensitive written descriptions.
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