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Picture book by a traveller to Istanbul

Picture book by a traveller to Istanbul  

Picture book by a traveller to Istanbul c 1588

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Bodl Or 430, fol 6r

Europeans visited the emerging Ottoman Empire for commerce, diplomacy and pleasure long before Sultan Mehmet II, known as 'Mehmet the Conqueror', made Istanbul his capital in 1453. Increasingly, the genre of the picture book, or costume-book, became a prestigious traveller’s record of court ceremony and city life. Sometimes artists attached to delegations saw the sultan himself, and here Sultan Murad III (r 1574–95) is shown as if in audience, robed in green and gold brocade.

The original owner of this manuscript is unknown, but it was purchased by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1607 and became the 549th accession to his new library at Oxford.