By İstanbul Research Institute
İstanbul Research Institute opens a visual window to the city of emperors and sultans with the exhibition entitled, Long Stories: İstanbul in the Panoramas of Melling and Dunn. A micro-level study of history focusing on the historical topography of the city.
The Civilizational Décor of the City
Panoramas constitute the visual narratives of a city. In each and every tale, we pursue the adventures of the cities that have created their own myths. Emperors and sultans cast their shadows in the images stretching before our eyes; the symbols of power piercing the sky are surrounded by the cultural texture of daily life, as well as the city’s architectural composition and nature. The raison d’être of a panorama is to bear witness to the urban image that appears as a protagonist on the stage of history, set against the civilizational décor that the eye perceives at first sight.
Testimony to an İstanbul in
the Process of Modernization:
The Panoramas of Melling and
The İstanbul panoramas of Antoine-Ignace Melling and Montagu B. Dunn are spectacular documents that shed light to the city’s history of modernization. Melling demonstrates his dedication to the ideals of the Enlightenment through his realistic approach to the historic topography of the late-18th century İstanbul. Dunn, on the other hand, reflects the new visage of a post-Tanzimat İstanbul he arrives in during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Both panoramas remain as scientific testimonies to the changing urban image of an İstanbul in the process of modernization.
Top Kapisi Waterfront Palace (1855) by Montagu B. Dunnİstanbul Research Institute
Tanzimat Modernism in İstanbul
Montagu B. Dunn arrives in İstanbul in 1855 as a
young naval lieutenant. As a consequence
of the Crimean War (1853-1856), the city he encounters for the first time is transformed
into a military base. In a sense, İstanbul is being reborn in the project
designs of European engineers and architects. It is thus possible to observe in
Dunn’s panorama, the striking images of modernization in a wide spectrum that
extends from architectural structures such as the Fire Tower of the Offices of
the War Ministry, the Russian Embassy, Nusretiye Mosque, Mecidiye Barracks and
Dolmabahçe Palace, which assume their places in the city’s skyline, to the ever-evolving
cosmopolitan texture of daily life.
Antoine-Ignace Melling (1763-1831) was a leading figure among the creative individuals that the Age of Enlightenment presented to İstanbul. He was born into a family of artists. In 1782, he undertook an expedition to the East. He arrived in İstanbul in 1784 as part of the Russian Ambassador Bulgakov’s retinue. His close circle of acquaintances included renowned figures of the period such as Choiseul-Gouffier and Mouradgea D’Ohson. He was introduced to Sultan Selim III’s (1789-1807) sister Hatice Sultan and subsequently designed the interior as well as the garden of her Waterfront Palace in Defterdarburnu. His accomplishments were noticed by Selim III, who in turn, appointed Melling as the imperial architect. Beşiktaş Palace, Topkapı Waterfront Palace project, Çırağan Palace and Şerifler Yalı all feature his signature style.
Curator & Text: Ekrem Işın
Consultant: M. Baha Tanman
Digital Adaptation: Irmak Wöber