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Istanbul as Far as the Eye Can See: Views across Five Centuries
20 September 2023 - 29 September 2024

Meşher’s new exhibition Istanbul as Far as the Eye Can See: Views across Five Centuries is curated by Şeyda Çetin and Ebru Esra Satıcı. Based on a selection of more than 100 rare works from the Ömer Koç Collection, the exhibition spans 500 years, from the 15th century – when Istanbul became Ottoman Empire’s capital – to the first quarter of the 20th century. Paintings and engravings showing wide-angle views, together with rare books, albums, panoramic photographs, and even souvenirs of Istanbul, offer visitors a richly varied visual record of the city. 
The many producers of these works are also very diverse, including a ship captain, travellers, soldiers, ambassadors, writers, photographers, architects, and city planners; many of them are Westerners with agendas ranging from political to military to aesthetic, and the medium they used varied. Their work reveals both diplomatic relations and the city’s multi-cultural structure and social life; they also trace the major changes that have taken place in the city over time. Quotations from written sources accompany the visual representations, creating a dialogue between Western perspectives and 19th- and early 20th-century Ottoman/Turkish literature. Rather than being yet another ode to the city, the exhibition encourages reflection on the diversity of its narratives and the differences in its many depictions.  

Istanbul as seen through Western eyes

Henry Aston Barker’s panorama of Istanbul, which he made from the top of the Galata Tower in 1800; an engraving after Philipp Franz von Gudenus’s drawing from the roof of the Swedish Embassy in 1741, sketched when he was stationed in Istanbul; and Joseph Schranz’s panorama from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara: these are only some of the images now showcased at Meşher. The works of James Robertson, known to have taken the earliest 360-degree panoramic photographs of Istanbul, are also on display, including his panorama taken from the Bayezid Tower in May 1854 and presented in an album that bears the artist’s signature. The oldest work in the exhibition is the Liber chronicarum (1493) by Hartmann Schedel, and among the most recent is an album (1922–1924) of original designs and drawings by Alexandre V. Pankoff. The panoramic views that enable us to see Istanbul from end to end and top to bottom in Istanbul as Far as the Eye Can See contain many interesting details as well. Shopkeepers in local dress, women making excursions in ox-drawn carriages, Europeans distinguishable by their hats, children, and four-legged friends of the city complete Istanbul’s historical silhouette.  


Henry Aston Barker (1774–1856)
A Series of Eight Views, forming a Panorama of the Celebrated City of Constantinople, And its Environs, taken from the town [i.e. Tower] of Galata
London: Thomas Palser and Henry Aston Barker, 1813.
First edition
8 handcoloured plates etched by C. Tomkins and aquatinted by F.C. & G. Lewis after drawings by Barker

Abdullah Frères
Panorama of Istanbul Taken from the Bayezid Tower 
[Album of Photographs]
c. 1865
6-frame, albumen print 

Evelyn Gorkiewicz de Habdank (1878–1963)
From Agha Hammam, the Last Day of the Year, 1895
An Album of Watercolours
May 1895–January 1896
Watercolour on paper

Rudolf Hellgrewe (1860–1935?)
The Golden Horn at Dusk
c. 1900
Oil on canvas
80 × 120 cm

Max Rabes (1868–1944)
SMY Hohenzollern II in front of the Dolmabahçe Palace on the Occasion of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s State Visit to Constantinople in 1898 
Oil on canvas

L. Manzoni (fl. 19th century)
Vüe de Costantinople depuis la pointe du Serail jusqu’a la Tour des Janissaires, prise de Carakeuy
Early 19th century
Pen-and-ink and watercolour over pencil on laid paper
25 × 123 cm

[Germany, c. 1835.]

[Germany, c. 1835.]

Cabinet Plates with Topographical Views of Istanbul
Decorated by Boyer
Paris, c. 1850

Guillaume Joseph Grelot (c. 1630/8–1680)
Relation nouvelle d’un voyage de Constantinople
Paris: Chez la veuve de Damien Foucault, 1680.
First edition

Souvenir Albums of Constantinople
c. 1900s
Various sizes

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