V&A Search the Collections

The Bosphorus, with the Castles of Europe & Asia. 1846

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Istanbul (City) (painted)
    Bebek (Painted)
    Rumeli Hisar (Painted)
    Anadolu Hisar (Painted)

  • Date:

    1846 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thomas Allom (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with white

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Shell International and the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case 89, shelf SCX, box 6

  • Public access description

    Many artists drew and painted the historic shores of the Bosphorus, the deep and narrow channel between Europe and Asia. A favourite subject was the romantic medieval fortress, Rumeli Hisari [Castle of Europe], built by Mehmet II, in a few months before he conquered Constantinople in 1453. It dominates the narrowest part of the straits, opposite its counterpart on the Asia shore, Anadolu Hisari, seen in the distance in Allom’s view. Allom has made a picturesque juxtaposition of the stone crenellations of the castle with the fretted wooden balconies of the houses or yali, that 150 years ago were a distinctive feature of the villages along the Bosphorus.

    Although he trained as an architect, Allom is better known now as a topographical artist. In 1834 he was a founder member of the Institute of British Architects, [later the RIBA] of which he became a fellow in 1860. He first drew views to finance himself as a student, but was so successful that he then travelled widely and contributed at least 1500 illustrations to numerous books on places in Europe, the Near East and even China, published during the 1830s and 1840s. Few details of his journeys are known, but between 1828 and 1845 he made extensive sketching tours in England, Scotland, France, Belgium, and Turkey, mainly for the publisher H. Fisher & Son.

    Allom obviously delighted in the picturesque details of the Turkish wooden houses, but did not incorporate these ideas into his own architecture. He designed a number of buildings in a wide variety of traditional styles, including workhouses in the Jacobethan manner and neo-Gothic churches, as well as Italianate houses on the Kensington Park Estate in the 1850s.

  • Physical description

    Watercolour drawing

  • Marks and inscriptions

    Signed and dated T.Allom. 1846; inscribed on back with title and date

  • Dimensions

    Height: 19.4 cm, Width: 30.7 cm

  • Object history note

    According to Rodney Searight: `Bt fr Fine Art Society, Apl.1969, £65 (but in part exchange)'.

  • Historical context note

    Formerly there were many decorated wooden summer-houses or yalis along the shores of the Bosphorus. Those seen here are in the village of Bebek at the foot of Rumeli Hisar; opposite, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, is Anadolu Hisar. Another view of Bebek is seen in an engraving after Allom in Walsh, Constantinople, Fisher, [1838 etc.], vol.I, facing p.61.

  • Descriptive line

    Watercolour, The Bosphorus, with the Castles of Europe & Asia. 1846, by Thomas Allom

  • Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

    Charles Newton, `Images of the Ottoman Empire' 2007, p. 109
    Briony Llewellyn, `The Orient Observed' 1989 p. 57
    Vikutoria & Arub?to Bijutsukan-z? : eikoku romanshugi kaigaten = The Romantic tradition in British painting, 1800-1950 : masterpieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum / selected by Mark Evans [Japan : Brain Trust], 2002. 185 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 30 cm.
    Searight, Rodney and Scarce, Jennifer M., A Middle Eastern journey : artists on their travels from the collection of Rodney Searight, Talbot Rice Art Centre, 1980

  • Collection code

    Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection