1805 - 1834
The Spice Bazaar, Constantinople

Watercolour on paper, signed ‘W Purser’ lower right
Image size: 8 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches (21.5 x 17 cm)

‘Syria, the Holy Land, Asia Minor’, J. Carne, London, Fisher Son & Co. 1836.

Fine Art Society Ltd, 148 New Bond Street, London, March 1969.


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This wonderful 19th century watercolour depicts the Spice Bazaar in Constantinople. The Spice Bazaar remains to this day one of the largest bazaars in the city of Istanbul and is the most famous covered shopping area after the Grand Bazaar. The bazaar was, and still is, the centre for spice trade in Istanbul.

The structure was designed by the court architect Koca Kasım Ağa, but the construction works began under the supervision of another court architect, Mustafa Ağa, in the last months of 1660. The Spice Bazaar has a total of 85 shops selling spices, Turkish delight and other sweets, dried fruits and nuts.

William Purser 

William Purser was an artist and architect who studied at the Royal Academy Schools. Between 1805-34 he exhibited his architectural subjects and landscapes at the Royal Academy, as well as exhibiting at the Society of British Artists. Between 1817-20 he travelled around Italy and Greece with George Ledwell Taylor and architect John Sanders, acting as draughtsman; during the 1820s and 1830s he also travelled in the Near East.