The Great Mosque at Damascus was adapted in the early 8th century from the massive Great Temple, which had previously been used for Christian worship. The architectural work executed here was to set precedents for similar projects in other major cities during the early years of Islam, when the principal churches were converted to congregational mosques. It has been said that the towers of the Great Temple were to become the first practical minarets in Islam. Perhaps this is the reason why Girault de Prangey draws our attention so abruptly to the minaret in this curious and striking panorama. The division of the image into three equal bands of sky, hills and, in this case, city is typical of many of his panoramas, each band stretching across the picture plane to accentuate the horizontal. Minarets are most often isolated in his vertical panoramas, but here the minaret makes a sharp and very dark vertical cut right through the scene, dividing the bulk of the Mosque from the rest of the city, and creating a highly unusual composition for the time.
The archive contains five other panoramas identified from Damascus, one of which shares the same title with this and is most similar in style (see lot 74). Another panorama is in the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.