Pasini first travelled to Constantinople on his landmark journey to the East accompanying Prosper Bourré in 1855, which began his career as an Orientalist painter. He returned to the city again in 1867, in that year receiving a commission from Sultan Abdül Mecit for two paintings now in the Dolmabahçe Palace, and stayed until 1869. During his sojourns there, Pasini was clearly inspired by the city's unique rococo-ornamented sebils, and would have made sketches of notable examples to act as the basis for oils including the present work, perhaps including the particularly fine Abdülhamid I sebil, constructed in 1777 (fig. 1).
In the present work Pasini brings together his observations of life in Turkey: ladies in their veils on a market stall, street sellers both negotiating deals and awaiting customers, a resting rider, tethered horses awaiting the return of their owners – the bright sun accentuating the bright colours and the contrast between light and shade.
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