PREZIOSI, Amedeo. Collection of 113 original watercolor drawings of Turkish costume and street-scenes, many are signed by the artist, and a few dated [1852-1857], vol. I


The painter Amedeo Preziosi (1816-1882) was born into a noble family of Malta. His mother was of French origin and his father was an eminent politician of the island. His first teacher was the painter Giuseppe Hyzler. Preziosi's family sent him to Paris to study law according to his father's wishes. However, he opted for enrolling at the School of Fine Arts.

After completing his studies in Paris, Preziosi returned to Malta but ultimately decided against pursuing a career in his home island and instead settle in the East in the early 1840's. He stayed in Istanbul until approximately 1871 and during that time became well-known among the circles of Western Europeans then living in the Ottoman capital. The British embassy entrusted Preziosi with creating an album of local costumes. His workshop was a meeting place for locals and visitors, where he also sold his work. He married a Greek woman of Istanbul, who bore him four children. As he was fluent in five languages, Preziosi also worked as an interpreter of the British embassy and the Greek authorities.

In 1868 Preziosi visited Romania at the invitation of prince Charles I, in order to draw landscapes and people. He died of a hunting accident in 1882 and was interred at the Catholic cemetery of San Stefano, on the outskirts of Istanbul.

Preziosi was renowned for his drawings in ink and pencil, and above all for his watercolours. The figures of his paintings are drawn in vivid colours, with original postures and vivid expressions. They were among the most sought-after souvenirs by foreign visitors to the city, in spite of the competition of the rising art of photography.

After his death, Preziosi's work was largely forgotten. Nevertheless, his work was newly appreciated in the late twentieth century and exhibitions of his watercolours and drawings were organized in Britain and Romania.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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