Melchior Lorichs or Lorck (1526/27-after 1583) was a painter and publisher of Danish and German descent. He was born in Germany and became known for his splendid engravings which show images of the Ottoman empire in the 16th century. He worked in Rome (1551) and Augsburg for the Habsburg royal family. In 1551, during the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent, he joined Ferdinand I of Germany's embassy to the Sublime Porte.
Lorichs stayed in Istanbul for approximately four years, in the caravanserai in which the German embassy was obliged to live in confinement. He drew monuments of the city (several of which do not exist any more), human types and their costumes, and scenes from Ottoman military life.
He returned to Western Europe in 1559 and stayed in Vienna until 1566 where he published several of his drawings, among which the celebrated panoramic view of Istanbul (11.45 x 0, 45 metres) in 21 leaves in black and brown ink, in which buildings and monuments of the city are rendered in great detail.
In 1562 Lorichs published the portrait of Suleiman I the Magnificent. He continued to receive patronage and was a renowned engraver in the courts of Europe. He participated in political and military events of his time, and drew a map of river Elbe which remains significant until today. He lived and worked in Hamburg and Antwerp, where he published his book on Sultan Suleiman in 1574. He worked on the preparation of an edition with numerous wood engravings related to society, life and traditions in the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with a promise he had made to Suleiman.
From the tenths of engravings which were going to be included in that edition, only few drawings by Lorich have been preserved. Very little is known about the fate of Lorich and his works after 1583. Only some of the engravings were published (1619, 1626). However, his works inspired the artists of his time, and illustrations of Ottomans became very sought after thanks to Lorich's works.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou