An Oriental Market in front of a Portal by Alberto Pasini and the Portrait of a Young Lady from Constantinople by Pietro Luchini. Both artists were born in Lombardy in northern Italy but were interested in the Orient as the subject of their paintings. Their fascination didn’t stop at just painting the Orient but inspired them to move to Constantinople themselves.
Alberto Pasini was fascinated by local colour and the bustling street life of Oriental cities. In this market scene he captures the abundance of detail with vivid colours and lively brush strokes. We see green watermelons, brightly dressed figures wandering through the market and dogs sleeping in the summer heat. During his time in Constantinople and on his extended travels, Pasini focused on plein air studies which he used as the foundation for larger and more finished works.
Pietro Luchini was also very attentive to detail, but his focus lay on luxurious interiors and the fashionably dressed beauties of Constantinople. The velvet vest embroidered with gold thread and the diamond earrings reveal that the sitter in this portrait clearly belonged to the aristocratic upper class. Even the mouthpiece of the Ottoman pipe is studded with diamonds. The intricate patterns of the tiles in the background and the shawl around the sitter’s waist are masterfully depicted. The atmosphere of the portrait is both fashionable and intimate, while offering a glimpse into an exotic lifestyle that was usually hidden to Western eyes.