Image: Amedeo Preziosi, A Turkish Coffee-House, Constantinople (1854)
For our weekend art post we present one by Amedeo (no, not that Amedeo). Amedeo Preziosi was Maltese and the 5th Count Preziosi. He rejected the path of lawyer that his parents preferred (so smart), and took up residence in Constantinople.
This Turkish coffee house watercolor painting dates from the 1850s and is in the holdings of the Victoria & Albert. According to the museum write-up, the picture captures the cultural crossroads of what is no Istanbul:
“On the left can be seen a saz (group of musicians); a Greek with a long çubuk (long cornel wood pipe) and a African youth applying a glowing piece of charcoal to the bowl, carrying at the same time a nargile (water-pipe); as well as a Mevlevî or whirling dervish in his distinctive conical külâh (felt hat). In the background are merchants, including a Persian. In the foreground is another merchant with a çubuk, and at the door an unveiled beggar-woman on her rounds. To their right are a Circassian with cartridges on the front of his coat, and two more Greeks smoking. The coffee house itself is a luxurious nineteenth century baroque structure, probably on the shore of the Golden Horn. The coffee house equipment is clearly shown: on the left a row of nargile with some spare tubes and a large water-pot; behind them, in the corner, the stove for heating the coffee and the charcoal for the pipes. Next to the Greek in the right foreground are a coffee cup and its metal holder. In the centre is an elaborate fountain, which cooled the room in summer.”
We hope you are staying cool as the summer rolls in. D.C. may not be as obviously cosmopolitan as 19th century coffee houses abutting the Bosporus, but we do have our fair share of food and culture from around world. If you are thinking about dipping into the dining world of D.C., then check out the rest of the site, including our dining guide.