Istanbul, that magnificent city straddling two continents, has been the subject of countless photographers and painters throughout history. One of its most wonderful portrayers was the Russian painter of Armenian origin, Ivan Aivazovsky. One of the most celebrated Russian painters of the 19th century, he&rsquos still regarded as one of the doyens of the Romantic school of painting. His specialisa­tion was in marine scenes. In fact, for a while, he travelled with the Russian Emperor Nikolai I to participate in and paint naval manoeuvres.
Feted across Europe, he was a guest of succes­sive Ottoman emperors in Istanbul, between 1845 and 1890, and even acted as the court painter for a while. This painting, A View of Istanbul and the Bosphorus, is one of the most famous of the number of scenes he painted there. Possibly painted from somewhere near the Galata Bridge, this glorious scene shows the river glowing in the sunset, with barges and ships and locals lounging about by the river, under the shadow of the unmistakeable silhou­ette of the Süleymaniye Mosque. This piece was auctioned in 2012 by Sotheby&rsquos for $5.2 million.