Together with Alberto Pasini, Fausto Zonaro is the artist most famously associated with Constantinople. Appointed Court painter to the Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1896, Zonaro lived in Turkey from 1891 until his patron's overthrow in 1909, and was the most important figure to introduce a western style of painting to the country.
Despite his formal title, and a few large-scale official commissions, Zonaro was above all a painter of modern Turkish life, whose primary aim was to render the light of Constantinople and the Bosphorus, and the daily activities and traditions of its people. Upon his arrival in the city, it was said that Zonaro was 'awake day and night', eager to capture the daily activities of its people, its busy marketplaces, the ships and frigates along the Bosphorous, and the unique landscapes from which he gained an optimal vantage point of all sides of the city.
Zonaro's artistic temperament upon arrival in Turkey was informed by a variety of influences, not least the anti-academic outlook prevalent in Italy that was first represented by the macchiaioli, and later by the plein-air colourists of Venice, such as Guglielmo Ciardi, where Zonaro briefly set up a school of painting in the early 1880s. As a maritime city, Venice's mixture of water, limpid atmosphere, historic architecture and bustling daily life, provided a visual template that could be quickly adapted to the city he would later adopt as home. He also spent a significant amount of time in Naples and in 1888, travelled to Paris, where he was struck by both the Impressionists and, notably, by the Orientalist drawings of Eugène Delacroix.
The present painting is a testament both to the influences Zonaro had absorbed and the ease with which he settled into life in Turkey. He paints his daughter in a fully frontal composition; despite her western dress, she blends in well with her surroundings and appears fully at ease. The light of the painting is soft and diffuse, suggesting an evening setting; the whole is effected with an economy of means, lending the picturesque an immediacy which brings it straight to life. This painting is a larger variant of a composition by Fausto Zonaro representing the other of the artist's two daughters, Jolanda (fig. 1).
The Dolmabahçe Mosque in the background, completed in 1855, is one of the country's most highly decorated Baroque-style mosques. The circular arrangement of the windows, which resembles a peacock's tail, remains its most unusual but defining architectural feature.
This painting has been examined and authenticated by Cesare Mario Trevigne, the artist's great-grandson, and is sold with a photo-certificate dated 18 May 2012.