Louis Nicolas de Lespinasse (French, 1734-1808)
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Louis Nicolas de Lespinasse (French, 1734-1808)


Louis Nicolas de Lespinasse (French, 1734-1808)
signed and dated 'd. L. 1787' (lower right)
pencil, ink, grey wash and watercolour heightened with white, on paper
15¼ x 22¾ in. (38.7 x 57.8 cm.)
Executed in 1787.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 13 December 1984, lot 127.
with The Fine Art Society, London, 1986.
acquired from the above by the present owner.
London, The Fine Art Society, Spring exhibition, 1986.
London, The Fine Art Society, The Andrew McIntosh Patrick Collection, 12 June - 5 July 2007.
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Lot Essay

This view of Mecca from above illustrates the artist's preference for bird's-eye views and the extraordinary attention to detail for which he is known. The drawing was one of a series Lespinasse executed to illustrate the Tableau général de l'empire Othoman (1788) by Ignatius Mouradgea d'Ohsson, an Ottoman in the service of the Swedish embassy in Constantinople, who wished to introduce the Ottoman Empire to a European audience. The Tableau included drawings by the foremost draughtsmen in France, including Lespinasse, Cochin, Hilaire, Le Barbier and Moreau. It remains one of the most important and comprehensive historical sources for the 18th century Ottoman Empire.
Lespinasse executed the original drawing to illustrate a chapter on the Islamic pilgrimage, the hadj (Book 5, volume II, p. 19, plate 45: figure 1). He has depicted the hadj in minute detail. The undulating train of pilgrims leads from the desert to the holiest place in Islam, the kaaba at the centre of the mosque. The kaaba, where the pilgrims' journey culminates in a ritual counter-clockwise circumambulation, is also the central focus of the picture.

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