- What’s On
Philip Mansel shows that large numbers of European travellers, including Casanova, Byron and Disraeli, continued their Grand Tour, by sailing on from Italy, accompanied by artists and interpreters, to Constantinople, Syria and Egypt. Their motives were power, pleasure and desire to see classical ruins.
The English ambassador, Lord Winchilsea wrote from Constantinople in 1663: ‘this city I hold much better worth seeing than all Italy.’ Country houses acquired ceilings copied from Athens or Palmyra, portraits in Ottoman dress, and cedars from Lebanon. The Ottoman Empire was particularly attractive during the Napoleonic wars, when the rest of Europe became a battle field. This talk will be illustrated by over 150 pictures of the cities and sites of the Ottoman Empire, including Constantinople, Ephesus, Athens, Baalbek, Palmyra and Alexandria.
Philip Mansel’s books include Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire (1995); Levant (2010), on Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut; Aleppo (2016); and King of the World: the life of Louis XIV (2019), whose agents scoured the Ottoman Empire for antiquities, manuscripts and rare plants. He is a founding committee member of the Society for Court Studies www.courtstudies.org and the Levantine Heritage Foundation www.levantineheritage.com