FAUSTO ZONARO | ON THE GALATA BRIDGE, CONSTANTINOPLE
Property of a Distinguished Collector
1854 - 1929
ON THE GALATA BRIDGE, CONSTANTINOPLE
signed F. Zonaro lower right
oil on canvas
71 by 65cm., 28 by 25½in.
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The canvas has not been lined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher which is providing stable support.
The paint surface is clean. There is a pattern of hairline craquelure throughout; however, this is not visually distracting and it is stable.
Inspection under ultra-violet light reveals some minor cosmetic retouching, including some areas in the sky and in the dog. Otherwise, this work is in good condition and is ready to hang.
Presented in a gilt frame.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE INCLUDED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Private collection, Spain (sale: Sotheby's, London, 16 November 2005, lot 215)
Private collection (purchased at the above sale)
Sale: Christie's, London, 21 May 2014, lot 61
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Adolphe Thalasso, Déri Sé'adet ou Stamboul Porte du Bonheur, Paris, 1908, illustrated
Osman Öndeş and Erol Makzume, Ottoman Court Painter, Fausto Zonaro, Istanbul, 2003, p. 103 (illustrated in an archive photo of the artist's studio in Istanbul)
Erol Makzume, Cesare Mario Trevigne, Fausto Zonaro, Twenty Years Under the Reign of Abdülhamid, The Memoir and Works of Fausto Zonaro, 2011, p. 18 (illustrated in an archive photo of the artist's studio in Istanbul), p. 113 (an archive photo illustrated)
Fausto Zonaro, Life and Light Between Ottoman Splendour and Italian Belle Epoque, exh. cat., Florence, 2015, p. 95 (illustrated in an archive photo of the artist's studio in Istanbul)
I could not even begin to describe, with my untrained pen, the entry into the port of Istanbul […] I will perform this duty not with a pen but with brushes, every hour of the day, from morning to evening, and, after countless, unsuccessful attempts, I will finally get this blend of colours that creates that bedazzling atmosphere onto my palette.
This view across the Galata Bridge spanning the Golden Horn, with the dome and minarets of the New Mosque beyond, has the qualities of a photographic snap shot of Constantinople's bustling street life. Pedestrians cross towards the Galata side of the city, while a street hawker sets up his stall to take advantage of the passing traffic. Built in 1845 and originally called the Sultan Valideh Bridge, it was rebuilt several times. The current structure dates from 1912.
The Galata bridge was a key artery for many, including Zonaro, who had moved to Constantinople in 1891. As noted in his diary, the city's sites and customs offered a constant flow of subjects for his paintings: ‘whenever I was tired […] I would watch the comings and goings of a large ship, on which something interesting and significant always happens; or sometimes I would watch with some amazement the heaving mass of people crossing the bridge all day without stopping in a seemingly forlorn flurry: like a cinema with an ever-lasting film…’. (Erol Makzume, Cesare Mario Trevigne, Fausto Zonaro, Twenty Years Under the Reign of Abdülhamid, The Memoir and Works of Fausto Zonaro, 2011, p. 40)
Zonaro's talent soon came to the attention of Abdül Hamid II, the last Ottoman Sultan, who appointed him painter to his court. Zonaro went on to become a teacher at the School of Fine Art founded by Osman Hamdy Bey. Thanks to the Sultan’s patronage, Zonaro was able to explore every corner of the city undisturbed, painting city views, markets, public ceremonies and religious festivals that would have otherwise been forbidden to him by Islamic law (fig. 1).