(Naples, 1809 – Tours, 1889)
Constantinople: the Bechik-Tach scale in the Bosphorus
Oil on panel
Signed lower right
20,5 x 29 cm
Related work: lithography (plate N ° 5) published in the book L'Orient, published in 1853, for which our painting is preparatory
Provenance: probably No. 19, Scale and cafes Bechik-Tach in the Bosphorus, of the "Sale of paintings and drawings painted by Mr. Eugene Flandin" - Drouot, Room 4, Friday, April 9, 1858, Auctioner Charles Pillet, Expert Francis Petit
Born in Naples while his father worked in the military administration of Murat, Eugène FLANDIN trained with Horace VERNET in Paris. He will become one of the most sought-after orientalist painters of his time.
From his first participations in the Salon, his works are acquired by Louis-Philippe on the Civil List and earned him a second-class medal. These are views of Italy (Venice, Naples), and especially Algeria (including military events), where he made a first trip between September 1837 and 1839. In 1839, he is attached to the embassy of Persia for archaeological missions and returned to France in 1842, stopping once in Constantinople. In 1844 he visits Constantinople again, then stays two months in Rhodes and Beirut, goes through Egypt before settling on the banks of the Tigris in Mosul.
After ten years of absence at the Paris Salon, he exhibited again from 1853, including views of Constantinople inspired by his trip of 1844. In the same year 1853, he published (Editions Gide and J. Baudry, 5 rue Bonaparte in Paris - printer Bertauts, rue Cadet in Paris) The Orient, an illustrated travel story illustrated with 150 prints of picturesque views of Turkey from the Bosphorus to the Indian border: the first views represent Constantinople, and in particular several wharves like the ladders of Top-Hana, Eyoub or Scutari.
Here is a part of the text that accompanied the lithography of Bechik-Tach:
This village is not one of the largest in the Bosphorus, but it offers walkers such temptations that they pass hardly before his ladder without stopping there. A small place extended, by means of piles, gives all ease to those who land ...
He describes the men in the foreground: They seem absorbed in serious thoughts: they are Caïkdjis who, while waiting for the passengers, enjoy their tobacco of Salonica ... At the bottom of the place we arrive by a few steps to another cafe, that of the Chelebis, that is to say of the elegant ones. Next to this cafe is the mosque, surrounded by cypresses, behind which one can see the hills whose wooded slopes form the European side of the strait.
The mosque in question is that of Sinan Pasha, built in 1555-1556 by Mimar Sinan, the main Ottoman architect of the time (he worked for Suleiman the Magnificent) on the command of Sinan Pasha, the great Admiral of Soliman.
The village of Bechik-Tach had formerly been important to the stay that Sultan Selim III made with his court in the neighborhood. It was then a very busy place, because the imperial palace attracted a considerable affluence of people of all conditions. Today Bechik-Tach is quieter, but fans of kief and music have remained faithful to him.
This district of Istanbul is today best known for its famous football club, one of the three main teams of the city with Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.
Between painting and lithography, there are some slight differences in the arrangement of groups of figures, the organization of foliage and clouds, or the dimensions of boats.
FLANDIN no longer exhibits at the Salon from 1861, and ends his life in Touraine, where he settled since 1850; he is mayor of the small town of Cerelles, and holds various posts at the prefecture of Tours.