This painting, the first of a series of four, represents the reception of a European ambassador by the Grand Vizier (the chief minister of the Sultan) and then by the Sultan himself, in Istanbul. The ambassador was first received in a room of the Vizier’s palace, known as the Audience Chamber. This formal reception usually took place shortly after an ambassador’s arrival in the city. European delegates typically resided in Beyoğlu, a district on the European side of Istanbul, which was separated from the old city by the inlet of the Bosphorus strait known as the Golden Horn.
In this work, the ambassador is shown sitting in front of the Grand Vizier on a small stool, with interpreters standing on either side of him. The Vizier’s palace depicted, which was situated close to the Sultan’s palace, was partly destroyed by fire in 1911. (See also GAC 3319, 3318, 3316)
Antonio Guardi was born in Vienna, but grew up and established his artistic career in Venice. His father Domenico was a painter, as were his younger brothers Nicolò and Francesco. In 1756, he became a founder member of the Venice Accademia. As the eldest son he is likely to have taken over the family studio at the age of 17, when his father died. Between 1730 and the mid 1740s he produced of a number of works for the German Field Marshal of the Venetian armies, Graf Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg. Among these were portraits of members of prominent European families and copies of masterpieces of the Venetian school. A large number of paintings of Turkish subjects were also commissioned by von der Schulenburg.
Audience of a European Ambassador with Grand Vizir
Oil on canvas
height: 97.50 cm, width: 130.50 cm
Purchased from Trustees of the Wharncliffe Estate, February 1959
Collection of Edward Wortley Montagu of Wortley Hall near Sheffield; presumably by descent to Lady Bute (Montagu's daughter); by descent to James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, first Baron Wharncliffe (Bute's grandson); purchased from the Trustees of the Wharncliffe Estate (having been formerly on loan) by the Ministry of Works in 1959
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