Since Antiquity, Istanbul, the capital of great empires, has always been a center of interest. From the birth of the Renaissance onwards, Eastern artists who strived to depict the East visited Istanbul for a number of reasons, documenting the city’s topography and incorporating local figures into their works. Due to its geographical location, as well as the political, commercial and cultural relations it maintained with the West, the Ottoman capital thus epitomized the “Eastern” city that European artists most frequently chose to portray. In a sense, Istanbul came to be recognized as the “Capital of the Orient” for Westerners. Together with the “Turquerie” trend that was nurtured by the passion for exoticism in 18th century Europe, Istanbul and its people constituted the fundamental elements that enriched paintings, tales, plays, operas, and costumes. Hence, the city became one of the most significant haunts for 19th century travelers and artists who embarked upon a romantic expedition of the Orient and the paintings portraying this impressive capital joined the ranks of art works that were most fervently sought after in Europe.
The selection of works from the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Orientalist Painting Collection included in the Istanbul: The City of Dreams exhibition emerged as outstanding visual documents that feature, largely though the perspective of Western artists, a view of the Ottoman world stretching from the 17th to the early 20th century. Organized under three major headings, the exhibition catalogue expands from life in the household and private domains to urban space and into more general views of Istanbul. Consequently, as the city is reflected on the canvasses of European artists in its entirety through its topography, architecture, people, traditions, and ways of life, such a revival allows us partake in the “Eastern journey” of these travelers and rediscover in their company -and through their eyes -Istanbul and the Ottoman world of unrivalled wonders.
Date of Publication: 2008
Number of pages: 129
Since Antiquity, İstanbul, the capital of great empires, has always been a center of interest. From the birth of the Renaissance onwards, Eastern artists who strived to depict the East visited İstanbul for a number of reasons, documenting the city’s topography and incorporating local figures into their works.
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