A Misty Morning – The Mosque Santa Sophia & Golden Horn, Constantinople

by Paul H Ellis



DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 23.5 x 43.5 ins / 59.7 x 110.5 cms

SIGNATURE: Signed lower left, dated 1889 on nameplate to frame, titled and signed verso

MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas


Catalogue No: 2473 Categories: ,

The painting seems to be classically rendered with small, overlayed brushstrokes of oil to create luminosity and depth in colour. However, the composition is far more Modern in style, with key attributes of the Japanese woodblock prints that were absolutely in vogue for Impressionist artists at the time. Prominent features of these styles are represented by the raised horizon lines, which contrast with the linearity of the manmade. In this instance, the boat masts and the mosque counteract the undulating lines of nature in the form of the sea and hills beyond. These are exactly the same techniques as were used by Monet in the previous year, 1888, with paintings such as Antibes, Afternoon Effect (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – below).


Private Collection, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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Paul Ellis was a flower and landscape artist based in Birmingham, who exhibited at the Royal Academy and other London galleries between 1883 and 1891. Although little is recorded in writing of his travel experiences abroad, A misty morning – the Mosque Santa Sophia & Golden Horn, Constantinople has the topographical attention to detail that suggests it was painted en plein air. The central feature of the mosque, to which the eye is directed in this pieces, has always been an important landmark of the city: being the hub of orthodox Christianity until 1453 and the grand mosque of the sultans for 500 years after that. As such, it is a significant piece of architecture for the history of both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Today it is an UNESCO world heritage site and is one of Istanbul’s foremost museums. Nevertheless, this is not merely a geographical exposition of Constantinople and it is worth taking a moment to analyse what Ellis’ intended the painting to reveal to the viewer and the wider impact of the Industrial Revolution painting on this piece.


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