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MELLING, Antoine Ignace. Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople et des rives du Bosphore, Paris, Treuttel et Würtz, MDCCCXIX [=1819].

Antoine Ignace Melling (1763-1831) was a French painter and architect, son of a sculptor. He studied architecture and mathematics and travelled to Italy and Egypt. In 1784, Melling moved to Istanbul as attaché to the Russian Embassy and lived in that city for eighteen years. He was architect to Sultan Selim III and his sister Hatice, with whom he maintained a close relationship. Melling designed the gardens and the interior of Hatice Sultan's palace in Ortaköy, and the interior of the newly built palace in Defterdar Burnu, in neoclassical style, as well as jewellery and clothes.

Melling's long-term stay in the Ottoman capital allowed him to experience the life of the Cort, and to draw views of Bosporus and its surroundings, as well as scenes from Ottoman society, in an impressive style. He returned to Paris in 1803, published his marvellour work and was appointed lanscape painter to emperess Josephine, Napoleon's wife. In 1812 Melling travelled to Holland; during his journey he produced a multitude of drawings and wrote many letters to his family. He later travelled to France, Britain and the Pyrenees.

In order to prepare the publication of his drawings, Melling set up an engraving studio, with the assistance of the best engravers of the time. The excellent quality of this edition, in select paper, realized by the best typographers of the time was achieved thanks to Melling's diligence, an impeccable engraving and the originality of the drawings. In order to write the accompanying texts Melling worked and consulted with Lechevalier, P. Deval, Pouquevile, Lacretelle, Choiseul-Gouffier, Barbie de Bocage and others. The locations from which the landscapes were drawn are shown on the map. Later on, coloured versions of the engravings were also published. The Ottoman capital, its natural landscape as well as monuments and everyday way unfolded before the eyes of Europeans in an unparallelled way. As has been recently said, Melling saw Istanbul as an Ottoman citizen but was able to paint it as an insightful Western European.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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