Details & Cataloguing

The Orientalist Sale


Leonardo de Mango
signed and dated Pera 88bre 1921 / L. de Mango lower right
oil on canvas
80 by 101cm., 31½ by 39¾in.
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Possibly, sale: Commissaires-Priseurs de Montpellier, Montpellier, 30 March 1997, lot 11

Catalogue Note

De Mango depicts the fanfare and energy surrounding the departure from Cairo of the Mahmal - the camel-mounted palanquin containing the holy Qur'an and symbol of the authority of the Sultan's guardianship over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina - on its annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The setting is Muizz al-Din Street, the procession passing between the Seheymi Pasha Palace on the left and the fountain of Suleyman Agha Silahdar on the right. In the distance is the Muizz Mosque. Foremost is a group of members of various sufi orders and dervishes, followed by the Mahmal itself, watched by crowds of onlookers and street traders lining the route.  

Pilgrimage to Mecca is the 'fifth pillar of Islam', first ordained for the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), and it is a duty incumbent on every Muslim adult male who must perform it at least once in his lifetime if he has the means to do so. The pilgrimage takes place in the first two weeks of the Islamic lunar month of Dhu'I Hajj.

De Mango studied at Academy of Naples, and travelled to Syria in 1874, later settling and in Beirut to teach painting at the Collège des Jesuites. From there, he discovered Cairo and Tripoli, before moving to Pera, Constantinople, where he spent the rest of his life and enjoyed the patronage of Sultan Abdulhamid II's son Abdurrahm Efendi.

The Orientalist Sale