About this artwork

First exhibited in London in 1838, the year of Allan’s election as President of the Royal Scottish Academy, this complex and ambitious picture confirmed the artist’s status as a pioneer of British Orientalist painting. In 1829-30 Allan had travelled to Constantinople with the ambassadors who concluded the treaty which ended the struggle for Greek independence from Turkish domination. In the central group of the painting, which was supposedly based on Allan’s direct experience, an Egyptian slave-merchant is shown selling a Greek girl to a Turkish Pasha on horseback. The melodrama of the scene with the girl being torn form her distraught family contrasts with the relaxed group of men about to be served tea. Allan brought back many Turkish items which he used when composing this picture.

Updated before 2020

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Sir William Allan

Sir William Allan