Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore
Born at Carlsruhe in 1763, Melling studied under his uncle Joseph, a painter at Strasbourg Academy and later joined his brother, an engineer in Klagenfurt, Carinthia where he studied Mathematics and Architecture. At the age of nineteen he joined the Russian Ambassador’s household and travelled to Italy, Egypt and Smyrna, until finally settling in Constantinople. From his base in the city he journeyed to the islands of the archipelago into Asia Minor and the Crimea.
Melling’s work on the restoration of the Dutch residence Nestabad brought him to the attention of Sultana Hadidge, sister to Selim III and in 1795 he was appointed Imperial Architect, a post he held for 18 years. Melling designed the Sultana’s neoclassical palace at Defterdarburnu Ortakoy and set about improving the buildings along the Bosphorus, in addition to designing gardens, interiors, clothing and jewelry. His close relationship to the Ottoman Court gave him privileged access not normally afforded to commoners let alone Europeans thus allowing him the opportunity to record an intimate picture of the Ottoman city and its society.
In 1803 Melling returned to Paris and began sourcing subscribers for what would become the monumental Voyage pittoresque. After six years he had enough funds to establish an engraving studio employing some of the finest topographical engravers of his day, Le Rouge, Nee, Dequevauviller, Reville to name but a few and then coordinated with learned men such as Le Chevalier, Lacretelle, Choiseul-Gouffier, Barbie de Bocage amongst others to complete the text. By 1819 all 12 issues with a total of 48 plates and 3 maps were published
Melling’s publication was wildly successful; his exhibition of the original paintings at the Louvre earned him the Gold Medal and led to his appointment as landscape painter to the Empress Josephine. His appointment continued under the Restoration of Louis XVIII, who named him a Knight of the Legion of Honour following the publication of his Voyage Pittoresque dans les Pyrenees Francaises shortly before his death.
However, it is for the work on his beloved Constantinople that Melling is best remembered. Regarded in both the West and the East as one of the grandest and most beautiful works of the city, it can be said that Melling saw the city as an Ottoman but painted it as a European, expressing a lovely balance of adoration and artistic skill that renders this work without rival.
Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of original antique Melling engravings available, please do contact us.