Provenance: Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, (1786-1880). The 1st Baron Lloyd, (1879-1941). By direct descent to the current owner.
Although signed and dated 1854, this magnificent panorama of British warships lying at anchor in the Bosphorus can be dated more correctly to the final months of 1853, just prior to the period before the fleet entered the Black Sea on 3rd January (1854) and the subsequent formal declaration of War three months later. The animosity between Turkey and Russia had been worsening throughout 1853 to the extent that Britain and France, having agreed to support Turkey in the event of hostilities, had each sent fleets to the Eastern Mediterranean that summer. As the international situation deteriorated, the British fleet entered the Bosphorus on 30th October and remained there for two months awaiting developments.
The fleet initially consisted of ten ships-of-the-line Sans Pareil, London, Queen, Agamemnon, Trafalgar, Rodney, Albion, Vengeance and Bellerophon, accompanied by various small vessels, mostly frigates, and led by the huge 120-gun flagship Britannia. Launched in 1820, she was a massive three-decker and one of the last pure sailing ships amongst the big men-owar, many of which had, by this date, been fitted with auxiliary steam power. By the standards of 1853, it was the mightiest fleet in the world and was intended as a deterrent with which to avert a general War in the East if possible. Despite its awesome firepower however, the Russians were not deterred; Turkey and Russia gradually became embroiled in a bitter conflict which could only be resolved by the intervention of Turkeys allies. Thus, at the turn of 1854, the British fleet was forced to leave its peaceful anchorage in the Bosphorus and head for the Black Sea where it took up its wartime stations off the Crimean coast for the ensuing two years.
Preziosi was born into a wealthy and aristocratic Maltese family and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1840. On returning to Malta he found his father to be opposed to his artistic inclinations and so left the island for Constantinople.
His exact date of arrival in Constantinople is not known but it was around November 1842 and Preziosi soon established his reputation as a painter of contemporary Constantinople life. He worked from a studio at Pera and familiarised himself with all Turkish manners and customs. In 1858, in collaboration with Lemercier in Paris "Stamboul; Recollections of Eastern Life" was published with Preziosi providing twenty-nine illustrations to be lithographed.
An earlier version of this view dated 1853, currently hangs in the drawing-room at Pera House, the British Consulate in Istanbul.
Stratford Canning, created Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe was Ambassador to the Ottoman Court from 1824 to 1829 and again from 1842 to 1858.
George Ambrose Lloyd, created Baron Lloyd was honorary attaché to the Consulate in Istanbul from 1905 to 1906, High Commissioner for Egypt from 1825 to 1828 and then Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1840 to 1841.