Description And Narration Of 14 Anatolian Cities In The 18th Century



Claude Aubriet was a French artist who worked in the Jardin du Roi. In 1699 French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort made Aubriet an offer of an expedition to the Levant. They were off to develop Tournefort’s classification via discoveries of plants, and add new species to Jarden du Roi. Eventually, text and illustrations formed the travelogue Relation d’un Voyage du Levant, fait par ordre du Roy in 1717. Aubriet drew landscapes of 14 cities in Anatolia: “Elegri” Ereğli, “Sinope” Sinop, “Cerasonte” Giresun, “Tripoli” Tirebolu, “Trebisonte” Trabzon, “Erzeron” Erzurum, “Cars” Kars, “Chonac-Coulhisar” Konak-Koyulhisar, “Tocat” Tokat, “Angora” Ankara, “Prusa” Bursa, “Magneise” Manisa, “Smyrne” İzmir, and “Scalanova” Kuşadası.. While Tournefort highlighted in his text what is exotic to his taste, Aubriet drew scientifically coherent landscapes. That is as if he followed a code where a typical city’s main elements were listed. In this paper, I will discuss if Aubriet’s compositions exemplify the utility of the transcultural model as landscape depiction? Aubriet’s depiction reminds of 16th-century city-atlases of Georg Braun the cartographer (Civitates Orbis Terrarum). Aubriet, highlights the architecture and topographical elements. Thus, they exhibit a similar cartographic method with some European city depictions. Also, they are general views, portraying the city as a whole, as if it were one of the local people Tournefort narrated about. Aubriet’s cities are supposed to illustrate the text however the compositions of the landscapes are different than the text. Are they a dual representation of the same land in the same book, by European scientist/artist/traveler? Did Tournefort represented early modern Anatolian cities by putting them in Oriental outlooks as such did Aubriet put them in European outlooks? So, do they point out a cultural encounter both with self and the other?

Both Relation d’un Voyage du Levant, fait par ordre du Roy’s text and illustrations were outcomes of an in-situobservation.  The illustrations are a key element to the survey but they aren’t examined, interpreted thoroughly until now. There is no satisfactory explanation of why the depiction is done in this specific manner; how this perception reflected the cities and why the depiction should be called “European” at all, except for the nationality of the artist. Yet, these rare depictions are very interesting and valuable both for the Turkish and European history of art.

The first part of the paper points to the “European” features of the city views even though these are lands in the Levant. This paper compares the illustrations in Voyage du Levant to the Civitates Orbis Terrarium. This comparison leads to the literature covering 16th-century city depictions and Ptolemy’s geography. The author of this paper has looked for an answer within these sources why Aubriet’s method of depicting cities is “European”. Tournefort was on the other hand, after the “other”, “strange” and “novel” at the same time. Some parts of Tournefort’s descriptions have the same features as the 19th century Orientalist discourse, but Tournefort’s observations, the exotic features are not reflected in the illustrations. The second part of the paper is a brief catalog of the city views.  The main idea is the comparison of the description styles of Tournefort and Aubriet. This diversity is intriguing because Aubriet and Tournefort were working together with each other and for the same establishment Jarden du Roi since 1690. The catalog helps to answer some of the questions asked in the beginning.

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