Vue over Constantiopel 1789

The auction's panorama by Louis-Nicolas de Lespinasse forms the basis for the etching published in the Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoma.

Louis-Nicolas de Lespinasse, Porte d´entrée

The auction's panorama by Louis-Nicolas de Lespinasse forms the basis for the etching published in the Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman (Panorama of the Ottoman Empire) by Ignatius Mouradgea d'Ohsson, a comprehensive, three-volume work published in Paris in the period 1787–1820. Originally from Armenia, Ignatius Mouradgea d'Ohsson was employed as an interpreter – a 'dragoman' – at the Swedish legation during Ulric von Celsing's time as envoy at the Sublime Porte (1772-80). In 1780, d'Ohsson was raised to the Swedish nobility and in the period 1795–99 he held the position of Swedish minister at the embassy in Constantinople. With the encouragement of his superior, Ulric von Celsing, d'Ohsson had begun work on a description in text and pictures of the Ottoman Empire, as well as of the Muslim faith and traditions he experienced at that time. Just as the title promised, the work was richly illustrated, and to help him, d'Ohsson called on French artists including Louis-Nicolas Lespinasse and Jean-Baptiste Hilaire. The Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman brought international fame for d'Ohsson, and is still considered one of the most significant and exhaustive descriptions of the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the eighteenth century.

Professor Günsel Renda describes how, in a letter from Paris to Ulric von Celsing dated 1784, d'Ohsson relates having met Gustav III. The Swedish king, who was taking his 'Grand Tour', had the opportunity to study a number of the original images for d'Ohsson's work on the Ottoman Empire. Above all, Gustav III was both impressed and fascinated by the portrait of the Sultan. The original pictures were created in Constantinople and then transported to Paris, where they were used as the masters for the etchings that would illustrate the Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman. According to Professor Renda, it took more than ten years for d'Ohsson to have masters made of all the panoramas, exteriors, interiors and portraits. In Günsel Renda's opinion, these originals should be considered masterpieces, as they have been prepared with the greatest precision and the greatest care to represent the subjects pictured accurately.

One of the artists who contributed to the masters for the illustrations in the Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman was Louis-Nicolas Lespinasse, the artist responsible for the auction's painting, who was recognised as a skilled watercolour artist – and a specialist in representing architecture. Professor Renda explains that he contributed the most significant panoramic scenes for the second and third volumes. One of the most important of these was the auction's representation of the Porte d'entrée du Sérail et voitures des Cadines du Sultan. Thanks to Lespinasse's accuracy and the care he took to copy the buildings he depicted in his settings, it is possible to this day to identify them without any problem at all. Perhaps the most famous scene Lespinasse painted was the View of Mecca, commissioned by d'Ohsson. This master still exists and has appeared on the market – just like the auction's painting.

In Sweden, owners of Ignatius Mouradgea d'Ohsson's Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman include Carolina Rediviva – i.e. Uppsala University Library.

Lot 2162
Louis-Nicolas de Lespinasse
Porte d´entrée du Sérail et voitures des Cadines du Sultan

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