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Panorama of Sarayburnu

Louis-François Cassas

Watercolor on paper, 75 x 237 cm.
Late 18th Century - Early 19th Century

This panoramic composition of Cassas, which centers on the Topkapı Palace, is likely to have been created upon his return to his country and is based on the drawings he made during the time he lived in Istanbul.  It is known that during his second visit to Istanbul in 1786, the artist made approximately 30 drawings, portraying the major structures and the overall view of the city. The composition is bordered by the entrance to the Bosphorus and Kadıköy on the left, and the Sultanahmed Mosque on the right. For this typical view of Istanbul, similar examples of which have been painted by European traveler-artists since the 16th century, Cassas presumably used the drawings he made from the balcony of the French Palace or gardens of the Swedish Palace. While the artist often includes figures and genre details in his landscapes, in this particular work, he also reveals the commotion at sea through a depiction of sailboats, commercial boats, and imperial caiques with kiosks (stern pavilions) in front of Haliç and Sarayburnu. A similar work by Cassas, which also offers a view of Galata with the flora and the graveyard in the foreground, is part of the collection of Musée de Valenciennes in France.