Lot 6
  • 6

Fausto Zonaro

350,000 - 450,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Fausto Zonaro
  • Bayram (The Celebration)
  • signed F. Zonaro lower right; signed and inscribed Roma on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 81 by 135cm., 32 by 53¼in.


Acquired in San Remo by the grandfather of the present owner in the 1930s


Probably, Barcelona, Seccion italiana, 1899, no. 23 
San Remo, Casinò Municipale, 1912
Genoa, Palazzo della Borsa, Piazza de Ferrari, Dal Bosforo al Capo faro, 1918
Milan, Teatro alla Scala, Il Bosforo - La Riviera, 1919


Osman Öndeş & Erol Makzume, Fausto Zonaro: Ottoman Court Painter, Istanbul, 2002, p. 245, illustrated
Erol Makzume & Cesare Mario Trevigne (eds.), Fausto Zonaro: Abdülhamid'in Hükümdarlığında Yirmi Yıl, Istanbul, 2008, pp. 136-7
Erol Makzume & Cesare Mario Trevigne (eds.), Twenty Years under the Reign of Abdülhamid: The Memoirs and Works of Fausto Zonaro, Istanbul, 2011, p. 18, illustrated in a photograph of the Galleria Zonaro; p. 104, illustrated
Erol Makzume (et al.), Life and light between Ottoman splendour and Italian Belle Epoque, (exh. cat.), Florence, 2015, illustrated


The following condition report has been provided by Hamish Dewar Ltd, 13 & 14 Mason's Yard, London SW1Y 6BU: UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE Structural Condition The canvas is unlined and is attached to a keyed wooden stretcher. There is some slight pulling in the upper left and upper right corners of the composition. The tacking and turnover edges have been strengthened with a thin linen strip-lining. There are two small splits to the canvas on the lower part of the right vertical framing edge which require some minor localised reinforcement. There is a small repair visible in the upper right quadrant as viewed from the reverse. Paint surface The paint surface has a relatively even varnish layer. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows horizontal bands of retouching corresponding to the two added batons on the upper and lower edges of the composition, an area of retouching above the buildings in the upper left quadrant of the composition, and a slightly larger area above and to the left of the marquee. There are also a few further scattered spots and lines of inpainting within the sky. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in relatively good condition and would benefit from cleaning, restoration and revarnishing, and from the localised repair of two minor splits to the lower part of the right edge.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

'Bringing together all the materials that I could, I start on a painting on the subject of Bayram. My friends the friendly pumpmen, the fire brigade of Taksim Square, were sat beneath a huge green canvas, happily sipping their coffees and bubbling away on their narghiles... 

I am with them now. The drum is coming, and behind it the renowned Armenian who expertly plays the zurna. The dance begins and the young men link arms and arrange themselves in rows waiting for the beat of the drum. And then slowly, their movement becomes more exuberant, they get faster, with tiny steps the tiny swaying movements begin. One, two, three spins are completed, the music stops, and they throw themselves onto the stools and begin to gulp down their first rakis. And I observe everything...'
Fausto Zonaro

Painted circa 1899, Fausto Zonaro’s Bayram (the Turkish for 'feast' or 'celebration') is an exciting re-discovery – never before offered on the open market, it is the slightly smaller of two large-scale versions of this street festival Zonaro painted, the other being in a private collection. Both works can be seen hanging on the walls of Zonaro’s studio in Constantinople, in photographs taken by the artist’s wife Elise shortly before their return to Italy in 1910 following the deposition of Sultan Abdülhamid II, to whom Zonaro had been court painter (fig. 1).

Situated in the Kurtuluş district (then named Tatavla) of Istanbul, the scene depicts the local celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, the feast which celebrates the breaking of the Ramadan Fast. Traditionally-attired men dance a joyous jig to the accompaniment of musicians amid a crowd of onlookers. Zonaro vividly describes being swept up with the Bayram celebrations in his memoirs (Makzume & Trevigne, Twenty Years..., pp. 108-9), so it is perhaps unsurprising to find the artist himself making an appearance in his painting, wearing the fedora to the right. Given the diversity of communities living in Istanbul, their feasts provided Zonaro with a continuous and ever-changing sequence of events to be witnessed and captured in paint:

'My young friend, Ardeshes, knew everything and would come to see me early in the morning: "There is a fete at such-and-such a place, shall we go?" I never said "No!" to anything, since I was certain that I could come across a new scene that would attract my curiosity, and I would set off with either my paint-box or my camera' (quoted in Makzume & Trevigne, Twenty Years..., p. 109)

For more than a decade, until 1910, Zonaro's 'Galleria Zonaro' in Akaretler at Acaraiti Senie 50 became a popular meeting place for local people and foreigners interested in art and culture, where they could meet the artist or view and even buy his paintings that lined the walls. After leaving Constantinople, Zonaro settled and spent the rest of his life in San Remo on the Italian Riviera, where the present work was purchased by the grandfather of the current owner. Its appearance on the market coincides with a major retrospective of Zonaro’s work at the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence from April to June 2015.