Thomas Hope: Drawings of Ottoman Istanbul, Benaki Museum, Museum of Islamic Art, March 24–September 25, 2016
Thomas Hope (1769-1831), a scion of a wealthy banking family, went on a Grand Tour, the traditional trip to Greece and Turkey for the young men of his class, during the last quarter of the 18th century. Virtuoso, with unique collections of antiquities, sculptures and European paintings, a generous sponsor and an expert in the fields of architecture and decoration overturned the artistic settings of his time, leaving his mark on the period of the Regency.
The exhibition presents 60 drawings from the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Included among the drawing are topographic views and folding panoramas of Istanbul and individual scenes from different neighbourhoods of Istanbul, monuments, temples, Ottoman palaces, halls of the seraglios, gates, mosques, funerary monuments, fountains, gates, the yalı on the Bosporus, and the sultan’s entertainments boats. Other scenes include details from market shops, coffee shops, images of various men, women with children of Istanbul, depictions of costumes, architectural details, accompanied by lengthy explanations and descriptions with comments. The works are of excellent quality because Thomas Hope was an unparalleled designer, a virtuoso of linear draftsmanship comparable to the qualities of a miniature painter. However, the importance of the Thomas Hope collection is not limited to the aesthetic pleasure it offers to art enthusiasts. The designs constitute a unique treasure of visual testimonies for the scholars of the Ottoman civilization.
The exhibition is curated by Dr Fani Maria Tsigakou, art historian, and Mina Moraitou, curator of the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art. It is accompanied by a bi-lingual publication under the same title, edited by the curators of the exhibition.