Cesare Dell’Acqua, 1821-1905, ITALIAN
AN OTTOMAN BEAUTY
Oil on panel
92.5 by 71cm., 36½ by 28in.
While the sitter’s dress and the gueridon table are quintessentially Turkish, in her left hand she appears to be holding a Jiajing or Wanli wucai decorated jarlet and cover, of the style produced in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. While covered jars of this type were originally produced as tea caddies, here it has been used to contain incense. The Chinese origins of the pot are a subtle reminder of the Silk Road which connected China with the Mediterranean through trade. More on this painting
Many of the concubines and odalisques of the Imperial harem were reputed to be among the most beautiful of women in the Ottoman Empire. Young girls of extraordinary beauty were sent to the sultan’s court, often as gifts from the governors. Numerous harem women were Circassians, Georgians, and Abkhasians. They were usually bought from slave markets after being kidnapped or else sold by impoverished parents. Many Georgian and Circassian families encouraged their daughters to enter concubinage through slavery, as that promised to be a life of luxury and comfort. More on OTTOMAN WOMEN
Cesare dell’ Acqua (22 July 1821 in Piran – 16 February 1905 in Brussels) was an Italian painter known for historical works.
He was born in Piran near Trieste. He first studied in Koper, but by 1833 he had relocated to Trieste. From 1842-47 he attended the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. One of his early historical paintings, The Meeting of Cimabue and the Young Giotto (1847) was acquired by the Archduke Johann of Austria. After this, he began to receive commmissions from noble families, including that of Prince von Lichtenstein.
In around 1848, he moved to Brussels where his brother Eugène, and where he began to specialize in works representing historical events. Between 1852-77 he completed a number of commissioned works in Trieste that established his reputation as a painter. In Brussels, he exhibited with strong responses and received commissions from prominent families. He also painted two works for the Greek Orthodox Church of Trieste; The Sermon of John in the Dessert which was so highly acclaimed that he was awarded town citizenship in 1851.
In 1873 Dell’Acqua participated at Universal Exhibition in Vienna and also exhibited in London the following year. This resulted in international commissions for his work. At the end of his career, he settled in Brussels, where he completed numerous paintings for use as book illustrations. In addition to historical themes, Dell’ Acqua also painted many female subjects dressed in traditional Greek and oriental costume. More on Cesare dell’ Acqua
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