Istanbul is a city which has never had an abundant source of fresh water, and the provision of water supplies for the general public was a major concern for Ottoman rulers. From the sixteenth century, they commissioned the construction of public fountains all over the city, as mains water was a luxury enjoyed by very few. The fountain (sabil) could be freestanding, built into a wall, or on a corner and was often extremely decorative. They acted as the focal point of each neighbourhood as well as of the public squares in front of mosques. This delicate example has typical features - a stone slab with the tap above a basin with small raised areas on either side where people could place their vessels or take a rest. The central panel is in the typical Ottoman style of the 16th or 17th century, but the surrounds appear more likely to be 19th century.
Girault de Prangey made photographs of fountains in Jerusalem, Jaffa (see lot 25) and Scutari (see lot 57) as well as in Istanbul, where he also photographed the Galata fountain. Each daguerreotype is quite different.