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Famous Orientalist Painters in The 19th Century Ottoman Empire

At the beginning of the 19th century, romantic painters, who noticed the mysticism of the East, brought the Oriental landscapes they had just discovered in the art world to the West with their fiery colors and sparkling paintings. The colors and shapes they presented aroused enormous admiration at the time. We would like to introduce you to the famous orientalist painters who admire this east and transfer their admiration to the west.

Naturally, we do not have the chance to include all the famous Orientalist Painters in our article, so we tried to choose the Orientalist painters who came to the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century or lived there for a long time.



Famous Orientalist Painters in the Ottoman Empire


Fausto Zonaro

Fausto Zonaro, an orientalist painter of Italian origin, was born in 1854 in Padova, Italy.

During his youth, he worked with his father in the construction of walls and buildings. In 1870, he enrolled in a technical school in Lendinara near Masi and studied painting for 3 years. After graduating from this school, he studied painting at L’Accademia Cignaroli in Verona and L’Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome.

The artist, who went to Paris in 1880, worked in his own workshop in Paris between 1880 – 1889 and was influenced by the Impressionism movement that was effective in France during his stay in Paris.

After traveling to various cities of Italy (Venice, Naples, and Padova), he came to Istanbul in 1891 at the request of his wife and made a name for himself around the Palace in a short time.


Famous Orientalist Painters in The 19th Century Ottoman Empire

Young Girl Carrying a Pumpkin, 1889 by Fausto Zonaro | Famous Orientalist Painters in The 19th Century Ottoman Empire


In his paintings, he successfully painted various parts of Istanbul, social events such as weddings, holidays, religious and official ceremonies, war, and people from various professions.

His Istanbul paintings, which he made with an orientalist attitude and impressionist technique, have been exhibited many times. He participated in the First and Second Istanbul Hall exhibitions held in Istanbul and in the exhibition organized for the thirty-first anniversary of Abdülhamid II (Abd Al-Hamid II) ‘s ascension to the throne in 1907.

The artist, who became a palace painter (Ressam-ı Hazret-i Şehriyari) by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1896, painted more than a thousand paintings during his stay in Istanbul. He had to return to Italy in March 1910, after the Meşrutiyet II was declared in 1908 and Sultan Abdülhamid was dethroned a year later.


Famous Orientalist Painters

Walking Along The Sea by Fausto Zonaro | Famous Orientalist Painters in The 19th Century Ottoman Empire


After leaving Istanbul, the artist settled in Sanremo, Italy, and continued to paint depicting Istanbul. His paintings were watched by a large fan base while the artist was alive.

Ten years after his return to Italy, he divorced his wife in 1920 and started living with his daughter.

He made his memoirs ready for printing in 1924, but the book was not published, it remained in the family archive for years. The book in Turkey in 2008, ‘Twenty Years Under The Reign Of Abdülhamid – The Memoirs and Works of Fausto Zonaro‘ has been published.

Two years before he died, that is, in 1927, he sent a letter to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In his letter, he praised the advances of the young Republic and mentioned the good days he spent in Istanbul and his financial injustice for his days as a Palace Painter. The relevant letter was found and published by Murat Bardakçı in the Presidential archive.

He died in Sanremo in 1929 at the age of 75.


Famous works of Fausto Zonaro:

  • Amusement at Göksu


Amusement at Göksu by Fausto Zonaro | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • Fatih Sultan Mehmet
  • The Conquest of Constantinople by Fausto Zonaro


The Conquest of Constantinople by Fausto Zonaro | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • Prince Abdürrahim Efendi
  • Mehmed II at the siege of Constantinople
  • The Imperial Regiment of the Ertugrul on the Galata Bridge



 Jacob Jacobs

The Belgian orientalist painter Jacob Jacobs was born in 1812 in Antwerp.

The maternal side of his family is associated with Beethoven. In fact, he was asked to be a writer by his family, but he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp). Here he worked with Gustaf Wappers and Ferdinand de Braekeleer.

The influence of names such as Ludolf Backhuysen and Adriaen van de Velde is observed in Jacob Jacobs’ work. He was interested in sea compositions. He focused on landscape compositions in his works. He opened his first exhibition in 1833.


Famous Orientalist Painters

On the Bosphorus, 1870 by Jacob Jacobs | Famous Orientalist Painters


We can say that he spent most of his life traveling.

During his travels to the North Sea in 1834 and to the Netherlands in 1837, he accumulated a large amount of art material.

He did not find his trips enough and in 1838 he went on a long sea voyage south to Gibraltar, the North African coast, Egypt, Çanakkale, Istanbul (stayed here for a few months).

Turkey and Rhodes’ u toured. After that, he went to Germany and Saint Petersburg. During these travels, he created two big albums that he will use for inspiration for the rest of his life.

In 1843 he was appointed head of landscape painting classes at the Antwerp Academy. Two years later, he was one of many Belgian artists who submitted illustrations for Belgian History by Hendrik Conscience.

In 1847 he toured Northern Germany and in 1850 Scandinavia.

Jacob Jacobs died on December 9, 1879, in Antwerp, Belgium.


Shipping on the Bosphorus overlooking Constantinople by Jacob Jacobs | Famous Orientalist Painters


Famous works of Jacob Jacobs:

  • The arrival of Sultan Abdülmecid at the Nusretiye Mosque


Famous Orientalist Painters

The arrival of Sultan Abdülmecid at the Nusretiye Mosque by Jacob Jacobs | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • A Busy Market Scene at Istanbul Harbour
  • Merchant vessels off the Turkish coast, a view of Istanbul beyond


Recommended For You: 8 Famous Impressionist Painters and Their Masterpieces.



Amadeo Preziosi

Amadeo Preziosi, a British citizen of Italian origin, was born in Malta in 1916. The artist, who works in Istanbul and the Ottoman life with great passion and belongs to an aristocratic family, took his first painting lessons in Malta.

Amadeo Preziosi carries a British passport because he is from the island of Malta, which is dominated by the British Empire. After his initial education in Malta, he then continued his education in Paris.

He never left Istanbul, where he came in the early 1840s. Preziosi, whose native language was Italian, spoke and wrote perfectly in English and French.


Famous Orientalist Painters

Turkish Street Scene by Amadeo Preziosi | Famous Orientalist Painters


His wife was a Greek lady from Istanbul. He naturally learned Greek, which is one of the most popular languages ​​in the daily life of Istanbul. During his stay in Istanbul, he worked as an assistant translator on political issues for a while at the British Embassy and occasionally as a translator for the Greek Delegation.

He gained a great reputation with the workshops he first opened in Pera and later in Yeşilköy and received many painting orders.

He did not spend the years he lived in Istanbul and painted Istanbul in every aspect. He reflected the Ottoman life with numerous portraits, various religious, national, and professional types of people, neighborhood, coffee, street, bazaar, cemetery and Bosphorus views, and daily life. His paintings show a realistic and romantic understanding.

In addition to his watercolor work, he also made colored stone prints with different advanced techniques, and Lemercier, who published lithography in Paris, ordered most of the lithography albums he published to Preziosi between 1850 and 1860.

His first album, Stamboul Collection of Eastern, was published by Lemercier and new editions of the album were made due to the great interest it received.

During the years he lived in Istanbul, he went on trips to the Ottoman lands, the Near East, went to Greece and Egypt, and returned from these trips with countless drawings and watercolors.

His work was published in 1861 as Stamboul Souvenir D’Orient, in 1863 under the name Souvenir du Caire. His last two albums are Stamboul Moeurs et Costumes and Caire Moeurs et Costumes.

He opened his first painting exhibition in Paris in 1858 and the second at the Royal Academy in 1863. His paintings were exhibited in the 1867 Paris Exhibition, in the Ottoman Pavilion.

The artist, who was the palace painter of Sultan Abdülhamid II (Abd Al-Hamid II) (1867-1909) in the last years of his life, died in a hunting accident in Yeşilköy. He was buried in Yeşilköy San Stefano Catholic Cemetery.


Famous works of Amadeo Preziosi:

  • The Silk Bazaar


Famous Orientalist Painters

The Silk Bazaar by Amedeo Preziosi | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • A café in Istanbul
  • View Across The Golden Horn (Haliç)
  • The Grand Bazaar


The Grand Bazaar by Amedeo Preziosi | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • Dancing Dervishes in Galata Mawlawi House



Leonardo de Mango

Leonardo De Mango was born in Italy in 1843. Raised in a poor, Catholic family, Leonardo De Mango continued his poverty that began in his first breath throughout his life. When he passed away, he was buried in his rented grave in the graveyard of the poor.

Leonardo De Mango’s passion for painting began at a very young age.

He won first place in a design competition in 1862. This first place kept his passion for painting permanent. Thanks to this award, D’Auria Malderelli, who was one of the famous teachers of the period, took courses for eight years with names such as Postiglione, Mancinelli, and Domenico Morelli.

He completed his education at the Academy in 1867 and had a passion to travel to the East, which seemed mysterious and popular among artists at that time.

De Mango’s passion came true when he went to Aleppo, an Ottoman province, and from there to Beirut in 1874. De Mango lived in these coastal cities for nine years.

During his years in Beirut, De Mango produced landscape paintings as well as religious-themed works and gave drawing lessons at the Beirut Jesuits College.

It is seen that the works that the artist gave in this nine-year period mainly reflect the transparent effect of light.


Famous Orientalist Painters

On the Golden Horn,1884 by Leonardo de Mango | Famous Orientalist Painters


After Beirut, De Mango went to Cairo, stayed in this city for a while, and created artworks on the Nile River, urban life, and Egyptian pyramids.

His Oriental life, under his spell, brought him to Istanbul in 1883. One of the Great factors in this journey is the interest of Abdülhamid II (Abd Al-Hamid II) in every branch of art.

He lived in Istanbul until 1911 and he painted places such as Golden Horn (Haliç), Fener, Eyüp, Adalar, Büyükdere, and Göksu.

However, Leonardo De Mango did not gain a reputation like other orientalist painters in Istanbul at the same time and his life was always in financial difficulties.

In a way, this situation was perhaps not too bad for De Mango because after the declaration of the Meşrutiyet II, another Italian painter, who was highly affected by this incident, did not undergo a shocking change like Fausto Zonaro. Because De Mango was not a painter assigned to the palace by Abdülhamid II (Abd Al-Hamid II). He did not have a substantial income from the palace. In addition, Zonaro did not have a house like in Akaretler given by the sultan.

While all his titles and house were taken from Zonaro, Leonardo De Mango was able to have an even more comfortable life with the influence of the Young Turk Revolution. For this reason, he did not leave Istanbul immediately like Zonaro. However, he had to leave Istanbul with the Ottoman-Italian relations that deteriorated as a result of the Italians attacking Tripoli.

But it was really difficult for someone who fell in love with Istanbul to break away from this city. When Ottoman-Italian relations returned to normal, he returned to Istanbul. He continued her life in a small room in one of the backstreets of Beyoğlu and he stubbornly continued to produce his works despite the lack of attention.

Leonardo De Mango felt like an Istanbulite. Maybe he was not born here, but he passed away in Istanbul. He was buried in a grave for rent in Feriköy Latin Catholic Cemetery.


Famous works of Leonardo De Mango:

  • Üsküdar


Famous Orientalist Painters

Üsküdar by Leonardo De Mango | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • Golden Horn (Haliç)
  • The Departure of the Mahmal from Cairo



Jean Leon Gerome

One of the orientalist painters, Jean Leon Gerome, of French origin, was born in 1824 in Vesoul, France.

He went to Paris in 1840 and studied here. Then he visited various cities in Italy (Florence, Rome, Vatican, and Pompeii). With the excitement and enthusiasm he gained as a result of these visits, he returned to Paris and worked in Charles Gleyre’s workshop in a short time. Then he joined the École des Beaux-Arts. He tried to enter the Prix de Rome in 1846 but found the figure drawing insufficient and eliminated him in the last stage.

Jean Leon Gerome gave up his dream of winning the Prix de Rome and concentrated on his studies. He went to Istanbul with actor Edmond Got in 1853 with the earnings he made with the orders he received. In 1854, in the Church of Saint-Severin, Saint Chapel Jerome completed his order to decorate the chapel.

He visited Egypt in 1856. He traveled to the Nile, Cairo, and the Sinai Peninsula. After these travels, he reached Jerusalem and finally Damascus.

Jean Leon Gerome, who was already very impressed by his visit to Istanbul, the paintings he made here constituted the beginning of his orientalist paintings.

In 1865 he was elected a member of the French Institute. He was elected an honorary member of the British in 1869. He started classes with sixteen students, most of whom came from his own workshop.

Osman Hamdi Bey, one of the most important artists for Turkish Painting Art, was among his students.


Famous works of Jean Leon Gerome:

  • The Carpet Merchant


Famous Orientalist Painters

The Carpet Merchant by Jean-Léon Gérôme | Famous Orientalist Painters


  • Leaving the Mosque
  • A View of Cairo
  • The Snake Charmer
  • Prayer in the Mosque



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