View of the Bosphorus Signed and inscribed 'A.M.' (lower left) Oil on canvas. 22 x 16cm (8 11/16 x 6 5/16in).
The son of a sculptor, Antoine Ignace Melling was born in Germany in 1763. After the death of his father, Melling went to live with his uncle who was a painter living in Strasbourg. At school, he studied architecture and mathematics, two influences very apparent in the meticulous and accurate subject matter Melling chose for his compositions. At the age of 19, the young artist was given the opportunity to travel with the Russian Ambassador and his company to Italy, Egypt and finally Constantinople. After completing several important commissions for Sultan Selim III's sister, including her palace at Orakei, Melling was directly employed as the Sultan's architect. The Sultan's sister kept Melling busy with tasks such as creating labyrinths that mimicked those in Denmark, redecorating the palace interior, and designing clothing and jewelry for her.
In his esteemed position as royal architect, Melling had the opportunity to observe every angle of the Ottoman court and society and was called the "the unrivaled painter of the Bosphorus." He is best known for his engravings depicting the architecture and environs of Constantinople. Melling's talent was not only in his observation, but his capability to recreate the buildings and landscape with such precision. However few original oil paintings, such as the present lot, remain today. The present work, likely painted in situ, depicts a group of men enjoying the entertainment of a dancer and their nairgilehs in the shade of a large tree with a view of the sunlit Bosphoros behind. Melling would have been privy to frequently enjoying such a scene over the course of the 18 years he spent in Constantinople.