Name of Object:



Stockholm, Sweden

Holding Museum:

Hallwyl Museum

Date of Object:

Around hegira 1317 / AD 1900

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Paper; photography.


Height 22 cm, width 26.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Istanbul, Turkey.


Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (r. AH 926–73 / AD 1520–66) selected one of the hills of Constantinople on which to erect his mosque. Its prominent site above the surrounding buildings gives the characteristic silhouette of the town that can be seen from the far-off Asian side of the Golden Horn. That is the view usually preferred by photographers, stressing its architectural greatness and importance. Not so in the case of this photographer. He chose a different point of view on the mosque, a view from the southeast, which shows the back of the building. Although he focuses on the mosque, there is more. The building takes up the whole space from left to right of the picture. We can see the mosque and the typical arrangement of its domes. The four minarets tell us that there is a courtyard in front of it. But the mosque does not dominate the picture. It is shown as part of the urban structure communicating with the surrounding landscape. And we, the onlookers, are also part of the picture due to the skill of the photographer. He enables us, as if with the eyes of the mosque, to see the Bosphorus, the ships and the shore on the other side which is still little built on. In this way, the magnificence of the site and of the building is immediately transmitted to the onlooker. And a second point lets us become familiar with it. The photographer's view allows an intimate look at the tombs of the Sultan and his wife Hürrem behind the mosque. It is, therefore, not simply a building of the Sultan that we see; it is the mosque of Süleymaniye.

View Short Description

Photograph showing the mosque of Sultan Sulayman (AH 926–73 / AD 1520–66) in Constantinople. In the background, the silhouette of the town of the Asian side of the Golden Horn. In the foreground of the photograph, but behind the mosque, are the tombs of the sultan and his wife Haseki Hürrem.

How date and origin were established:

These kinds of photographs, bought as souvenirs mostly by Europeans, were very common during the second half of the 19th century. Wilhelmina von Hallwyl who bought the photograph for her collection travelled in 1901, so it must have been taken not too long before that date.

How Object was obtained:

Bought by Wilhelmina von Hallwyl during her journey from Jerusalem to Istanbul in 1901. This photograph belongs to a collection of 2,364 photographs owned by the Hallwyl Museum from Morocco, Egypt, Palestine and Turkey covering a period from 1870 until 1927.

How provenance was established:

The photograph shows a building of Istanbul.

Selected bibliography:

Öztuncay, B., The Photographers of Constantinople: Pioneers, Studios and Artists from 19th Century Istanbul, Istanbul, 2003.

Citation of this web page:

Friederike Voigt "Photograph" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;se;Mus01_A;42;en

Prepared by: Friederike VoigtFriederike Voigt

Friederike Voigt has an MA in Iranian studies, history of art and social science and is currently working on her doctoral thesis on wall tiles in architectural decoration of Qajar Iran. Since 2004 she has been a project-related curator at the Museum for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm for Museum With No Frontiers. She studied at Humboldt University in Berlin, at the University of Tehran and archaeology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. She taught Persian language at several universities in Germany. She was an assistant curator at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Cultures at the Museum of Ethnology, State Museums of Berlin. Her main fields of interest are the material culture of Iran, especially of the Qajar period, and contemporary Iranian art.

Copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SE 61


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