September 10, 2009

The Count's Sketchbook

A remarkable sketchbook containing over 80 spectacular watercolours by Count Amadeo Preziosi, is one of the highlights of London's Bonhams’ Fine Art Auctioneers next Travel and Exploration Sale.

The sketchbook accompanied the watercolour artist, Count Amadeo Preziosi (1816-1882) on his Grand Tour of Europe in 1875, which he titled ‘Souvenir de mon dernier voyage’ (Remembrance of my last journey) and is estimated to sell for £320,000-500,000. A better and more revealing image can be seen at The one I’ve used really doesn’t do it justice.

Preziosi’s album documents, in glorious technicolour, every stop on his momentous journey, beginning and ending in Constantinople (Istanbul), but also includes Romania, Hungary, Germany, England, France, Italy and Malta.

Giles Peppiatt, Head of Travel and Topographical Pictures at Bonhams Auction House says: “To find one picture by Count Preziosi would be a pleasure, but to find no fewer than 81 of his works in his own personal sketchbook is astounding. The book provides a brilliant insight into a lost world, one that our forbears inhabited just 135 years ago, but a world utterly transformed. Yet one can page through this remarkable document and marvel at images that architecturally are still intact. This is an object that is more than the sum of its parts because of it is one man’s overview of Europe in works of delicate beauty.”

The fascination for Constantinople in 19th century Europe made the city a popular destination for western travelers. Many of them, including artists Thomas Allom, Eugene Delacroix, Alexandre Decamps and Eugene Fromentin, illustrated what they saw and did, leaving a legacy of paintings and engravings depicting the city’s mosques, palaces, fountains and squares. But Preziosi’s portrayals of the citizens of Constantinople are full of original detail not to be found in the work of others. The artist’s appreciation for locals in their colourful traditional clothing is evident among the pages.

Born into a wealthy and aristocratic Maltese family, Preziosi had been passionate about art since childhood, further carrying out his avocation by studying at the Paris Academy of Fine Arts. His father was strongly opposed to his artistic inclinations and so Amadeo high-tailed it to Turkey. Having studied in France, Prezsiosi was well-aware that European painters were flocking to Constantinople. He set out in 1842, traveling to Italy and then on to Constantinople, intending to stay for two years. Amadeo Preziosi loved the city and intended to spend the remainder of his life in Constantinople.

Despite his father’s appeals Preziosi refused to return to Malta, where the other members of his family followed ‘respectable’ careers. Preziosi remained true to his passions of painting and Constantinople. He married a woman there and the couple had four children. When he was 65, he was wounded by his own gun following a hunting expedition. Count Amadeo Preziosi is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Yeşilköy, where his grave still stands today.

Sources: Please check out this site.

Below are some examples of Preziosi's work, not included in Bonham's sale found at Wikimedia.


Alistair said...

Hullo C-Pup,

Again you find an amazing thing.
How do you do that so consistently?
You must be either really talented or have worrying amounts of time on your hands. { As if I should talk! }

On balance I would have to give you the better of those two choices.

Looking forward to the next one already.

kind regards.....

Brian Miller said...

what wonderful pictures. i used to try my hand at watercolor..nothing like that though.

The Clever Pup said...

Hi Alistair,

I do, I do have an inordinant amount of free time, but I love to blog and still do it when I'm working full-time.

Something I read either triggers a series of thoughts or I actively search for something cool and artistic to muse about. We have lots of books and reference material here at the house and it's usually pretty easy to pontificate on something.

Best wishes,

Paul Cumes said...

Wow those are amazing.