Looking East, Looking West: Highlights from our Ottoman catalogue

The Ottoman Empire ranks alongside the Roman and Byzantine as one of the most powerful imperial systems in world history. In existence from the late thirteenth century until 1923 and embracing at its height most of Southeastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, it was arguably the most influential political system over the course of more than a millennium of Islamic history.  Our latest catalogue of 100 books and prints gives a full picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state from a European perspective, not just synonymous with Turkish history but many others.

View PDF catalogue: Shapero_LookingEast_LookingWest

BURTON, Richard F., Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah. 1855-56

First edition, 3 volumes. £6750

In 1853 intrepid British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton disguised himself as an Islamic pilgrim and made the trek into the heart of Arabia visiting the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. If his true identity as a European Christian had been exposed, the penalty for his indiscretion would have been death.  The publication of his account of the journey brought him fame as an adventurer and also as a man of considerable knowledge about Arabs, their customs and way of life.

Further Reading – Larger than Life – the explorer Richard Buron

MAYER, Luigi. Views in Egypt. 1805

First editions. Three separately published works bound in one volume, folio.


Luigi Mayer (1755-1803) was an Italian-German artist and one of the earliest and most important late 18th-century European painters of the Ottoman Empire. A student of Piranesi, he made the illustrations when he was employed as the personal view painter for Sir Robert Ainslie, British ambassador at Constantinople.

The scenes here are quite memorable, not only for the impressive views of ancient monuments, but for their glimpses in to the lives and culture of the people including a rather thrilling depiction of the exploration of Egyptian tombs.

PREZIOSI, Amadeo, follower of.  Pair of watercolours depicting scenes inside the Grand Bazaar at Istanbul. Second half of the nineteenth century.

Watercolours with gouache on paper, framed and glazed. £25,000

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul  is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.  The watercolours depict the Bazaar before the advent of shops as we know them. In one, a merchant and his wife, in another a group of well-dressed lightly veiled Ottoman beauties.

A native of Malta, Preziosi first visited Istanbul in 1842, and depicting the city and its people in their distinctive costumes and attitudes was to be the focus for his artistic career thereafter.  Preziosi’s gift for depicting people and costume, and free flowing lines, along with attention to small details, make his work particularly appealing, and inspired a school of followers.

Talk & Catalogue Launch: The Ottoman Empire: 22 Feb. 18:00–21:00

Coinciding with the launch of our new catalogue we have arranged for one of the UK’s leading historians to give a short talk about the Ottoman Empire. Dr. Philip Mansel’s latest book is Aleppo: Rise and Fall of a Syria’s Great Merchant City.

Find out More

For more information concerning these newly catalogued items or to request our Ottoman catalogue please contact Julian MacKenzie in our Travel Department.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *