Andrea Soldi was an Italian painter who worked in Syria and the Levant between 1733 and 1735, moving to England in 1736. During his stay in the Near East he was commissioned to paint several portraits of merchants of the Levant Company, principally young British men distinguished by their adoption of local Turkish costume. All his portraits from this period are characterised by various common features: oval faces, dimpled chins, round tipped noses, long slender fingers and Turkish dress.
The British Levant Company was founded by Royal Charter in 1581 as an institutional joint-stock company responsible for the management of trade between London and the Eastern Mediterranean. Its main centre was Aleppo, but it had several bases across the Middle East, including Smyrna and Constantinople. It was an established convention among the gentlemen of the Levant Company that a successful merchant had his portrait painted immediately before returning to Britain.
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