Thursday, 8 March 2012
Antoine Ignace (Anton Ignaz) Melling was born in Karlsruhe in 1763. He studied Architecture and Mathematics at Klagenfurt. At the age of 19, he went to Italy, Egypt, and finally Constantinople as a member of the Russian Ambassador's retinue with the aim of drawing pictures for various dignitaries. He was introduced to princess Hatice Sultan, sister and confidant of the Ottoman Sultan Selim III.
At Hatice Sultan's suggestion, Melling was employed as Imperial Architect by Selim III. In 1795 the princess commissioned Melling to design a labyrinth for her palace at Ortaköy in the style of the Danish ambassador Baron Hübsch's garden. Delighted with the result, she asked Melling to redecorate the palace interior, and subsequently, a completely new neoclassical palace at Defterdarburnu. He also designed clothes and jewellery for her.
Melling Pasha's eighteen years as Imperial Architect gave him a privileged opportunity to observe the Ottoman Court. He became more familiar with the Ottoman palace than any Western artist since Gentile Bellini. He made many detailed drawings of the Sultan's palaces, Ottoman society, and vedute of Constantinople and its environs.