Bridges, Stagecoaches, Trains and Balloons on the Road to the Tanzimat: Paintings and Descriptive Strategies of Modern Transportation Infrastructure and Vehicles in Seyyâhnâme ‘The Book of Traveller’ Dated 1835Fikret Turan
The work entitled Seyyâhnâme presents a unique travel account as it provides detailed information about England and France and contains watercolour paintings on the subjects explained. The work was probably written by Mehmed Emin Pasha (d. 1851), a mühendishane military school-educated Ottoman statesman, between 1835-1837, at a time when he was studying at Cambridge University. There are two copies of the work, one of which is the author’s original copy (autograph) and the other is a later copy, and both copies are kept at the Library of Rare Works, Istanbul University. The author enriched his work with 18 watercolour paintings to embody the subjects he expressed which include the modern military service, education, transportation infrastructure and modern vehicles that he witnessed in England. 14 of these paintings reflect modern transportation infrastructure such as streets, bridges and tunnels, as well as new-style passenger cars, steam trains and balloons, of which the author saw the originals or paintings in England. One of these images is a modern shopping street, showing London’s gas-powered street lamps, three of them show England’s prominent steel and suspension bridges, two of them tunnels pass under the river, one modern harbour and dock structure, two modern postal and passenger cars, two of them steam train and tram vehicles, and three of them balloons which had already started to be used for transportation purposes. It is understood that the author drew the pictures with new interpretations by using the pictures published in England as engravings or lithographs as templates. The author states that the subjects he describes are as seen in the pictures, and in this way, he implies that he is the painter of these pictures. This article examines how the author’s descriptions of transportation infrastructure and modern vehicles, which he describes with literary descriptions, are reflected in watercolour paintings.
Tanzimat’a Giden Yolda Köprüler, Dilicanslar, Trenler ve Balonlar: 1835 Tarihli Seyyâhnâme’de Modern Ulaşım Altyapısı ve Araçlarına Dair Resimler ve Tasvir StratejileriFikret Turan
Muhtemelen mühendishane kökenli Osmanlı devlet adamı Mehmed Emin Paşa (öl. 1851) tarafından 1835-1837 yıllarında eğitim aldığı Cambridge Üniversitesinde yazıldığını düşündüğümüz Seyyâhnâme isimli eser İngiltere ve Fransa hakkında sunduğu bilgilerin yanı sıra içindeki suluboya resimler bakımından benzeri seyahatnamelerden ayrılır. Eserin birisi müellif nüshası, birisi de istinsah olmak üzere iki nüshası vardır ve her iki nüsha da İstanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserler Kütüphanesinde bulunmaktadır. Yazar, eserini İngiltere’de gördüğü modern askerlik, eğitim, imar ve ulaşım araçlarına dair dile getirdiği hususları görsel tasvirle somutlaştırmak amacıyla 18 adet suluboya resimle zenginleştirmiştir. Bu resimlerden 14 adedi yazarın İngiltere’de aslını veya resimlerini gördüğü modern cadde, köprü ve tünel gibi ulaşım altyapısı ile yeni tarz yolcu arabaları, buharlı tren ve balon gibi ulaşım araçlarını yansıtmaktadır. Bu resimlerden sırasıyla birisi Londra’nın havagazıyla çalışan sokak lambalarını gösteren modern bir alışveriş caddesini, üç adedi İngiltere’nin öne çıkan çelik ve asma köprüleri, iki adedi nehir altından geçen tüneli, bir adedi modern liman ve dok yapılarını, iki adedi modern posta ve yolcu arabalarını, iki adedi buharlı tren ve tramvay araçlarını ve üç adedi ulaşım amaçlı kullanıma başlayan balon resimlerini göstermektedir. Yazarın, çizdiği resimleri büyük ölçüde İngiltere’de gravür veya taşbaskı olarak yayımlanmış resimleri şablon olarak kullanarak yeni yorumlarla çizdiği anlaşılmaktadır. Yazar, tarif ettiği konuların resimlerde görüldüğü şekilde olduğunu söyleyerek dolaylı olarak bu resimlerin ressamı da olduğunu dile getirir. Bu makalede yazarın edebi tasvirlerle anlattığı ulaşım altyapısı ve araçlarına dair açıklamaların suluboya resimlerle nasıl yansıtıldığı irdelenmektedir.
The work entitled Seyyâhnâme presents a unique travel account of an Ottoman statesman as it provides detailed information about England and France and contains watercolour paintings on the subjects explained. The work was probably written by Mehmed Emin Pasha (d. 1851), a mühendishane military school-educated Ottoman statesman, between 1835-1837, at a time when he was studying at the University of Cambridge. The author enriched his work with 18 watercolour paintings in order to embody the subjects he expressed, which include the modern military service, education, transportation infrastructure and modern transportation vehicles that he witnessed in England. Among the things that impressed the author are the maintenance and cleaning of the streets of London, as well as the street lamps that illuminated the streets by burning the gas extracted from the coal. The picture on page 3a is described as “It is the picture of the London houses and the pavements of streets with the street lamps using gas” (F 1). The author drew this painting based on the engraving “Part of East Side, Regent Street” by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.
As he had an engineering background, the author gives information about modern big bridges he saw in England. The painting on page 4b on this topic has the description “It is a picture of a suspension chain bridge” (F 2). On the same topic, the painting on page 6a bears the title “It is the picture of the iron suspension bridge under which ships pass-through” (F 3). This bridge is a painting of The Menai Suspension Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford (1757-1854) and completed in 1826, over the Menai Strait in the Irish Sea between the island of Anglesey and Wales in the west of England. It shows great similarities with Thomas Barber’s “Menai Bridge from the Anglesea Side” (1830) and W. Crane’s “The Menai Bridge” (the 1830s). The third bridge painting is presented on page 7a with the title “It is the picture of the threeeyed bridge built of solid cast iron” (F 4). This is the Southwark Bridge over the River Thames. Despite being a bridge located in the centre of the city, the picture lacks environmental context and details.
The paintings on pages 8b and 9b have the titles “It is the picture of the road under the Thames River” (F 5) and “It is the painting of the road depicted in the previous page, seen from the entrance” (F 6). Both depict the Thames Tunnel and both show great similarities with the engravings entitled “The Thames Tunnel, London 1832” and “The Thames Tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe” published during this period.
The painting on page 17a has the caption “It is a painting of the seven pools on both sides of the Thames River including one storehouse and shades with an iron cover built around it” (F 7). Since freight cranes and dock structures were more developed in the dock engravings drawn around the 1830s, the author probably made this based on the older engravings of the docks.
The author gives detailed information on the horse-drawn passenger stagecoach carriages that made scheduled voyages and the system of mail coaches in England. There is a caption under the painting on 51a “It is the painting of the houses they call the hotel and the mail and stagecoaches” (F 8). On the same topic, the painting on 52a bears the title “This is the picture of the roads outside the city and the stagecoach that does not carry postal courier” (F 9).
The picture on page 57a is entitled “It is the picture of steamboats: for passenger, for trade goods, for animals” (F 10). It shows the first examples of steam trains and their three types of carriages carrying passengers, trade cargo and animals. Although the carriages are different in all three types of trains, the locomotives have similar characteristics. The author probably drew this painting as an interpretation of a set of four engravings entitled “Travelling on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway” drawn by S. G. Hughes and Isaac Shaw in 1833. The picture on page 58a bears the caption, “It is a painting of a steam train that consumes its smoke in a box” (F 11). The picture shows an example of a small steam-powered three-wheeled tram with relatively luxurious features built for use on narrow streets and slopes in the city of London.
The author provides up-to-date information about the balloon, ballooning and balloon flight experiments, which showed significant developments and aroused great excitement especially, in France and England during that period. The balloon picture on page 61a has the caption “It is the picture of the thing that they call balloon” (F 12). Unlike the smaller pear-shaped balloons, which were common in the period, the balloon shown here is larger, with a transverse oval shape, and it has wings and a steering rudder that allows it to go against the wind. The balloon depicted on page 62a with the description “Another type of the balloon mentioned” (F 13) is the prototype of balloons that were commonly seen in balloon engravings and lithographs drawn in Europe during this period. The painting shown on page 63a with the caption “It is the picture of the said balloon” (F 14) is an interpretation of a balloon that was being worked on during this period and that had not yet been tested and was only on display.
There is no doubt that these paintings as the visual representation of the literary descriptions of the modern urban reconstruction and improvement, transportation infrastructure and vehicles the author made, had a great impact on the minds of the Ottoman reader. It is a big possibility that this work, which was completed shortly before the announcement of the Tanzimat Edict, provided important visual data for the sultan and the high echelon of the Tanzimat administrators who carried out their modernization project more systematically.