J. Pavlikevitch (Russian, 20th Century )

On the Bosphorus


signed and inscribed 'Istanbul/Pavlikevitch' (lower left)
watercolour over pencil on paper
16 x 22.5 cm (6¼ x 8⅞ in)



On the Bosphorus shows the Istanbul Strait crowded with maritime movement. The scene, viewed from the Anatolian banks of the waterway, evokes the magnificence of the Istanbul skyline. The two iconic mosques of the city, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or Blue Mosque (on the far left) and Hagia Sophia (on the far right), are clearly visible, and the nearby river banks are dotted with small single-sail boats. In the middle of the water a grand three-master sits at anchor surrounded by other shipping. In the foreground, a small row boat approaches the larger vessel.

Next to the Blue Mosque, one can see the Tower of Justice which is part of the Topkapı Palace complex. This palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853 and the tower is the tallest structure in the palace. Built to symbolise the justice and vigilance of the Sultan, the tower was intended to be widely seen across Constantinople in order to provide reassurance as to the Sultan’s presence.

The Bosphorus, which connects the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, is only 30km long and 700m wide and is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation. Historically, as well as today, the straits are one of the busiest and most critical waterways in the world, providing a vital artery for international trade between Europe and Asia.