Views of İstanbul
Views of İstanbul depicted in the 15th and 16th centuries were often schematic drawings that excluded figures; for the most part, they appeared in sea atlases, history and geography books. The city panoramas produced after the 17th century, on the other hand, ceased to be mere drawings of cartographers or architects, but evolved into landscapes that conveyed the topography and natural setting of the city with utmost sensitivity. During the 18th century, in which the city increasingly expanded towards the Bosphorus, the scenes that offered a view only from the north were replaced by wider cityscapes that stretched towards the shores of Üsküdar and the Bosphorus. The most commonly preferred spot for drawing İstanbul panoramas was the slopes of Galata and European embassies located in this area. Yet, after the 18th century, Bulgurlu Hill on the slopes Üsküdar emerged as another vantage point. These two angles provided the artists with the widest view of İstanbul, both towards the Golden Horn and in the direction of the Bosphorus.
The rapid development of commercial, diplomatic, and cultural ties between the Europeans and the Ottomans in the 18th century brought embassy delegations, merchants and travellers to the Ottoman lands. İstanbul was thus portrayed in all its vivacity in the brushstrokes of artists who accompanied these travelers on their visits to the city.
In lieu of the İstanbul panoramas of the previous century, the Orientalist painters of the 19th century, on the other hand, depicted fragments of the mesmerizing Eastern life in their paintings, which conveyed the picturesque nature and distinctive architecture of the city. All these paintings reveal the unique history, unrivalled nature, remarkable texture, as well as the outstanding monuments, ways of life and traditions of İstanbul, a magnificent city that was crowned as the capital of great empires.