John Frederick Lewis was born into an artistic family, his father, Fredrick Charles Lewis being an engraver and his uncle George Robert Lewis a painter. After starting to study engraving with his father, Lewis was to study animals under Edwin Landseer. His early works which were mostly animal subjects, were mostly engraved or etched and were exhibited at the British Institution, in 1820 and at the Royal Academy in 1821. Lewis travelled widely, visiting Switzerland and Italy in 1827, Spain in 1832-4, Paris in 1837 and Rome in 1838-40. From Rome, Lewis travelled to Greece and the Middle East including Constantinople, before moving on to Cairo in 1841. Lewis settled in Cairo for a decade and lived the life of a rich Turk, affecting native dress and customs. During the period 1841-1850 Lewis did not exhibit any pictures in London, until his watercolour 'The Hareem' which caused an enormous sensation. Lewis was hailed as a leading Pre-Raphaelite and Ruskin said of 'The Hareem' that it was 'faultlessly marvellous'. Although Lewis was not a member of the Pre-Rapaelite Brotherhood, his style and technique were similar in method. His detailed observation, fine draftsmanship and strong sense of colour were meticulous in execution and earned Lewis enormous popularity with the general public. Lewis is considered the most important English Orientalist and is best known for his hareem scenes and Eastern studies of decor and figures.
The contents of John Frederck Lewis' studio were sold at Christie's, 4 May, 1877.
The city of Bursa, southeast of the Sea of Marmara, lies at the slopes of the mountain Uludag (Mt. Olympus of Mysia). The city was founded by Prusias (230-192 B.C) King of the Bythnians, and was named Prusa, later to become Bursa. The city saw successive rulers: Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine. In the Roman period Bursa became a cultivated and civilised city with hot springs and a flourishing silk trade, often visited by Roman Emperors. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 395 the city declined in importance changing hands frequently between the Christians and Muslims in the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1075 Bursa was captured by the Seljuk Turks and subsequently taken by the Crusaders in 1096, in 1204 the city passed over to the Byzantines. In 1326 the city was conquered by Sultan Orhan Gazi and Bursa was proclaimed the capital of the Ottoman Empire up until 1402. Bursa remained an important Ottoman city right up until the Turkish war of Independance, being declared a provincial city of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
Under the rule of Orhan the building of the Mosque with the kitchen, bath and caravanserai began in 1339-40, near the Byzantine citadel. The mosque is an early example of the Bursa or z'wiya type mosque, with a five bay porch on the north leading to a domed vestibule and a central domed hall, with further rectangular rooms and a hall leading to the main iwan used for prayer.