Saturday, June 26, 2010

Drew what he saw

I read about Melchior Lorck in a review* by Marina Warner of Erik Fischer's projected five-volume catalog, the fourth volume of which was just published. This drawing was made when Lorck, his Flemish patron Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, and the rest of an embassy from Flanders to the court of Suleiman - ruler of the Ottoman Empire - were under house arrest in Istanbul. The enterprising artist found a vantage point and started drawing. Among the details is a couple making love on a rooftop terrace (above, middle left). Eventually freed, the embassy was successful. Lorck's portraits of Suleiman are in a Mughal style that was popular at court. The Mughals were the other power, along with the Hapsburgs, with which Suleiman had to contend. Warner argues that the presence of the artist with a high-ranking Ottoman companion in a panorama (below) Lorck drew of the city was meant to advertise Suleiman's self-confidence to western viewers.


*: Marina Warner, "A View of a View," London Review of Books, 27 May 2010, page 15-17. (Readable by purchase or subscription. The LRB is worth getting.)

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