Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D , Case BOX, Shelf 83

A British Official [probably the Ambassador Stratford Canning] dining with the Kaymakam of Istanbul

Watercolour
about 1809 (Painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Stratford Canning (later Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, (1786-1880), began his long diplomatic career in Turkey as first secretary to Robert Adair on his mission to Istanbul in1808. On arrival Canning soon arranged to see officially (and unofficially) all manner of Ottoman institutions, buildings and customs. What made his curiosity really valuable is that he hired a local artist to make a large series of views and studies of what he had seen. Canning mentions an occasion when he met and dined with the Kaymakam or Governor of Istanbul, and this is probably the illustration of it. Careful examination of the image shows the fashionably dressed Briton, (still with his hat on), dining in a sumptuously furnished room with a richly dressed Ottoman official. They eat together at a low table, each draped with an embroidered shawl like a kind of large napkin, to protect their clothes. Next to the table, clad in distinctive fur-trimmed robes and hat, stands the terjuman or interpreter.

The identity of the artist is unknown, though Turkish scholars believe that he was part of the studio or circle of Konstantin Kapidagli. His style combines the dense and brilliant water and bodycolour used by Ottoman artists with European conventions of representation and perspective. As a young man, the artist and future neo-classical architect Charles Cockerell went to Istanbul in 1810, stayed at the embassy, and even met Byron there. Even more interestingly, Cockerell (with an interpreter) met and discussed painting technique with this Greek artist whom, frustratingly, he did not name in his letters. Sultan Selim had encouraged the study of European art, and this artist’s work was the result. Cockerell’s copies of the Greek’s architectural views are now in the British Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum finally acquired the original set of drawings from Canning’s daughter Charlotte in 1895.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Water- and bodycolour
Brief Description
A British Official [probably the Ambassador Stratford Canning] dining with the Kaymakam of Istanbul, about 1809. Anonymous Greek artist.
Physical Description
Painting of a fashionably dressed Briton, dining in a sumptuously furnished room with a richly dressed Ottoman official.
Dimensions
  • Height: 21.5cm
  • Width: 33.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Numbered 102
Object history
Originally the paintings in this series [D.23-150-1895] were bound in a volume. It was bought by the Museum in 1895 from `Miss Canning' [i.e. Charlotte Canning, daughter of Stratford Canning] for 10 Guineas.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
Stratford Canning (later Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, (1786-1880), began his long diplomatic career in Turkey as first secretary to Robert Adair on his mission to Istanbul in1808. On arrival Canning soon arranged to see officially (and unofficially) all manner of Ottoman institutions, buildings and customs. What made his curiosity really valuable is that he hired a local artist to make a large series of views and studies of what he had seen. Canning mentions an occasion when he met and dined with the Kaymakam or Governor of Istanbul, and this is probably the illustration of it. Careful examination of the image shows the fashionably dressed Briton, (still with his hat on), dining in a sumptuously furnished room with a richly dressed Ottoman official. They eat together at a low table, each draped with an embroidered shawl like a kind of large napkin, to protect their clothes. Next to the table, clad in distinctive fur-trimmed robes and hat, stands the terjuman or interpreter.



The identity of the artist is unknown, though Turkish scholars believe that he was part of the studio or circle of Konstantin Kapidagli. His style combines the dense and brilliant water and bodycolour used by Ottoman artists with European conventions of representation and perspective. As a young man, the artist and future neo-classical architect Charles Cockerell went to Istanbul in 1810, stayed at the embassy, and even met Byron there. Even more interestingly, Cockerell (with an interpreter) met and discussed painting technique with this Greek artist whom, frustratingly, he did not name in his letters. Sultan Selim had encouraged the study of European art, and this artist’s work was the result. Cockerell’s copies of the Greek’s architectural views are now in the British Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum finally acquired the original set of drawings from Canning’s daughter Charlotte in 1895.
Bibliographic References
  • Charles Newton `Stratford Canning's Pictures of Turkey', The V&A Album, Vol. 3, 1984, pp.76-83
  • Charles Newton `Images of the Ottoman Empire', 2007, illustrated on page 21
  • Ahmet Yaşar, “Stratford Canning Albümü: 1809 İstanbulu’nda Mekân Tahayyülleri”, History Studies, 12/4, Ağustos 2020, s. 2199-2218: http://www.historystudies.net/dergi//stratford-canning-albumu-1809-istanbulunda-mekan-tahayyulleri202008d9223cb.pdf
Collection
Accession Number
D.124-1895

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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