Little is known on the life of Italian painter Giovanni Brindesi (1826-1888). It has been established that he started his career as a watercolour painter, was left-handed, and lived in Istanbul during the reign of Abdul Mecit (1831-1861). His main work consisted in depicting scenes of the public, private and military life of the city. His workshop was at Pera neighbourhood and his tomb is located at the Catholic cemetery of Feriköy district. His paintings were lithographed by Lemercier publishing house in Paris, and published in two Albums (1855-1860). The first Album shows a series of costumes, mainly of Ottoman officials, and the second scenes from everyday life in Istanbul. Brindesi's original drawings are kept at the Museum of Topkapi Palace and the University of Istanbul.
In the 19th century, orientalism, an artistic and literary current marked by the cult of Eastern mystery and exotism, provided rich diversion and leisure to the Western European public. Both prominent and minor artists created graphic works, either based on their imagination alone or following a journey to the East, and often rendered overstated and idealized pictures of people and places.
The present work, which was only published once, includes picturesque snapshots of life in the Ottoman capital, its surroundings and Bursa. Of special interest are the depictions of vehicles, such as carriages. Although he did not leave many works behind, Brindesi is among the most remarkable figures of Orientalism.
Brindesi's drawings were published in coloured lithographs, made by several other artists, such as Ch. Bour, Hadamard, J. Gaildrau, A. Charpentier, Gilbert, Bayot, Schultz, and Sorrieu. Charles Bour exhibited his work in the yearly Salon of Paris from 1844 to 1880. He became distinguished for his engravings of military scenes and preferred strong contrasts of light and shadow. His works are marked by the transition from the romantic to the realistic style.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou