Eugène Napoléon Flandin (1809-76)
A View of the Suleymaniyeh and The Golden Horn, Constantinople
Oil on canvas
signed and dated lower right 1852
132 x 262 cm.
This magnificent view of the Suleymaniyeh Mosque and The Golden Horn at Istanbul (previously known as Constantinople) typifies Eugène Napoléon Flandin's infinite skill for topographical accuracy, a love of the Orient and mastery of colour. One of the leading Orientalist painters of his day, he was born in Naples to French parents, studied under Horace Vernet and in 1842 was awarded the Légion d'Honneur. During his early career his subject matter was largely inspired by Italy resulting in views of the Piazzetta and the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs, the beach at Naples or a portrait of young girl from Naples. However, he subsequently became far better known for his Orientalist oils, watercolours and drawings, many of which were published. Having made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1836, Flandin received a second-class medal there in 1837. He then attained even greater attention with two of his Salon exhibits in 1839, of which The Capture of Constantinople was bought by Louis-Philippe while The French Army Entering Algiers, 5 July 1830 is now in the Musée du Versailles.
In 1837 Flandin accompanied the French Army to Algeria and then in 1840, he and the architect and painter Pascal Coste (1787-1879) were sent by the Institut on a mission to Persia. Led by Edouard de Sercey, its aim was to discover how the country had evolved under the reign of Mohammad Shah Qadjar and to record its ancient and modern monuments. De Sercey left early but Flandin and Coste went on to visit Hamadan, Kirmanshah, Shiraz and Persepolis, returning after about two and a half years of hard work via Mosul, Aleppo, and Constantinople. Flandin returned once more to the Middle East in 1844, when he travelled to Mesopotamia. During his second journey, he drew sculptures and low reliefs discovered on the site of Kuyunjik in Nineveh, which were published in 1850 in Monument de Ninive.
Following his first venture to the Middle East, he and Coste compiled a six volume album, which was eventually published in 1851, as was Flandin's more personal account of their journey. He subsequently published two more albums L'Orient (1856) in four volumes as well as Histoire des Chevaliers de Rhodes (1864). Today one can admire his works in many public collections, which in addition to the museum at Versailles include those at Auch (Bridge of Sighs, Venice), Caen (Interior of a Studio), Lille (View at Tripoli, Syria), Marseilles (View of Baghdad), La Roche-sur-Yon (Entrance to the Venetian Vaults) and Rouen (View of Athens).