Louis Nicolas de Lespinasse

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Louis Nicolas de Lespinasse
The Presentation of an Ambassador to the Sultan in the Hall of Petitions of the Topkapi Palace, Constantinople
ca. 1790
Graphite, pen and brown ink, watercolor and gouache, heightened with white, on paper.
9 7/8 x 15 3/8 inches (252 x 392 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978.
Stockholms Auktionsverk, 25 November 1997, part of lot 1293; London, Christie's, 7 July 1998, lot 237; New York, Christie's, 22 January 2003, part of lot 70; acquired from Andrew Clayton Payne, London.

Lespinasse, whose precision and finesse as a topographical draftsman are unmatched in the eighteenth century, executed highly finished watercolors representing the important architectural sights of the day. He produced this elegant scene and "The Reception of an Ambassador by the Grand Vizier at his Yali on the Shores of the Bosphorus" (2006.3) on commission from Ignatius Mouradgea d'Ohsson (1740-1807). The two drawings were probably executed in Paris from original designs recording the events by an Ottoman Greek painter, Kapidagli Konstantin or his workshop. Lespinasse's drawings were intended to illustrate Mouradgea d'Ohsson's "Tableau general de l'Empire Othoman", a three-volume work documenting life in the Ottoman empire; the first two volumes were published in Paris in 1787 and 1789, while publication of the third volume was delayed until 1820 due to the Revolution. The present drawing was reproduced as the final plate (233) in volume three of Mouradgea d'Ohsson's "Tableau general de l'Empire Othoman" (1820) with the title "Audience d'un ministre europeen".