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Title: Exit of the ambassador of the Sublime Porte, Mehemet-Effendi, from the audience granted by the king, March 21, 1721
Author : MARTIN Pierre-Denis, known as MARTIN the Younger (1663 - 1742)
Creation date : 1721
Date shown: 21/03/1721
Dimensions: Height 80 cm - Width 115 cm
Storage location: Carnavalet Museum (Paris) website
Contact copyright: RMN-Grand Palais / Bulloz Agency
Picture reference: 03-009276 / P.1073
Exit of the ambassador of the Sublime Porte, Mehemet-Effendi, from the audience granted by the king, March 21, 1721
© RMN-Grand Palais / Agence Bulloz
Publication date: February 2019
University of Evry-Val d'Essonne
The honors of a great power
On March 21, 1721, the capital of the kingdom is in full swing. An experienced diplomat, Yirmisekiz Mehmed Effendi (1670-1732) is the official envoy of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III to the King of France. Five months later, he was received in Paris with all the honors, with the aim of impressing the delegation and maintaining an image of grandeur which it would convey in return.
The moment represented comes after a public session in the presence of the king, the regent and the great ones of the kingdom, installed in Paris since the death of Louis XIV. The event is so important that it generates a multitude of representations: paintings, engravings, medals and tapestries. So, Charles Parrocel (1688-1752), painter of the Royal Academy, depicts the arrival and departure of the Ambassador near the Tuileries. In 1724, Pierre Gobert also received an order from the King's Buildings for a half-length portrait of the Ambassador.
Pierre-Denis Martin (1663-1742), pupil of Joseph Parrocel (1646-1704) is “ordinary painter and resident of the king and his majesty”. The route of the work is not known in detail, but it is probably intended for the decoration of one of the royal residences, before its acquisition in 1912 by the Carnavalet Museum where it is still on display.
His Majesty's Host
The artist's staging emphasizes the solemnity of the event. The official procession crosses the Seine from the Quai des Galleries du Louvre, which runs alongside the palace, with the Pavillon de Flore in the background. The Royal Bridge leads to the left bank of the river, with the Malaquais or Theatins quay, from where the view is taken to the north. The delegation is seized on the spot at the exit of the bridge over which the parade extends. As usual, Martin represents a large crowd that assembles as the convoy passes, like a snapshot of the hectic life of Parisians, curious to discover the Sultan's emissary and his retinue of 85 people.
In order to satisfy the demonstration of power desired by the authorities, all the companies of the King's Military House are mobilized: French Guards, Light Horses of the Guard, Swiss Guards and Musketeers. Dressed in a traditional green caftan and covered with a white turban, the sultan draws the attention of the spectators to the foreground of the canvas. Framed by the guards and representatives of the king, he heads for the rue de Tournon, not far from the Luxembourg Palace. He is expected at the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs Extraordinaires, located in the Hôtel d'Ancre, acquired in 1621 by Louis XIII. For several decades, this site has been the scene of lavish parties to welcome foreign ambassadors, such as those of the Order of Malta, the Tsar of Muscovy or the King of Siam.
This representation is not only a tool of memory, because it participates in propaganda. After the setbacks of the last wars of the reign of Louis XIV, this painting illustrates the many relationships that France wishes to maintain in Europe and beyond. The challenge is to keep the kingdom in the closed circle of the great powers that guide foreign policy, while strengthening its ties with the Ottoman Empire since the alliance between Francis I and Suleiman the Magnificent in 1536.
Unlike King France who has a permanent ambassador in Constantinople, the Sublime Porte sends temporary emissaries to be pampered. For eleven months, the ambassador is therefore at the heart of attention. His trip took place during the so-called Tulip period (1718-1730), when Turkish diplomacy dismissed war and manifested its attraction to European culture. This approach is described in the ambassador’s mission letter: "to make an in-depth study of the means of civilization and education and to report on those capable of being applied". Effendi goes on a series of tours that showcase the French art of living and knowledge, such as the King's library, the Paris Observatory, the Royal Academy of Sciences, Versailles, the royal factories or the Canal du Midi.
The ambassador left Paris on September 7, 1721 and joined Constantinople a month later. He is received by the emperor in order to recount his observations, published at the same time in reports entitled Paradise for infidels. It nourishes the Ottomans' thirst for discovery of the West, as the French passion for the East illustrated by the success of the French edition of Thousand and one Night since 1704, as the publication of Persian letters from Montesquieu (1689-1755) the same year as the Ambassador's visit. France renews its support for the Sultan, including in 1736 when the Russians wage war against the Turks. In 1746, a second Ottoman embassy led by Saïd Effendi, son of Mehmed Effendi, already present in 1720-1721, was received by Louis XV.
- Louis XV
- royal bridge
- Montesquieu (Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède and)
- Mehmed Efendi
Visitors to Versailles: Travelers, princes, ambassadors (1682-1789), Paris, Gallimard, 2017.
Lucien BÉLY, Spies and ambassadors in the time of Louis XIV, Paris, Fayard, 1990.
Lucien BÉLY, International relations in Europe: 17th-18th centuries, Paris, University Press of France, 1992.
Fatma Müge Göçek, East Encounters West: France and the Ottoman Empire in the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987.
Gilles VEINSTEIN (ed.), Mehmed Efendi, Paradise for infidels: An Ottoman Ambassador to France under the Regency, Paris, Maspéro-La Découverte, 1981.
Stéphane YERASIMOS, "Explorers of modernity: The Ottoman ambassadors in Europe", Genesis, Social Sciences and History, No. 35, 1999, P; 65-82.
To cite this article
Stéphane BLOND, "The ambassador leaves the Sublime Porte (March 21, 1721)"