This painting is the third of a series of four works showing the reception of a European ambassador by the Grand Vizier (the chief minister of the Sultan) and then by the Sultan himself, in Istanbul.
Before being admitted into the presence of the Sultan, Ottoman protocol demanded that all ambassadors and their accompanying delegates be fed. This work shows the ambassador at the dinner provided before his audience with the Sultan. The dinner was hosted by the Grand Vizier in the name of the Sultan. It is taking place in the domed Council Chamber of the Sultan’s Palace. The ambassador sits opposite the Grand Vizier at the central table, while two interpreters stand either side of them. During the dinner the Sultan was able to observe his guests from behind the grilled window, seen in the wall above the Grand Vizier's head. This dinner was followed by a council meeting in Turkish, which the ambassador was obliged to attend. (See also GAC 3317, 3319, 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.
Dinner Given by Grand Vizir to European Ambassador
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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