Object Image

The Slave Market, Constantinople

The Scottish artist William Allan travelled to Constantinople in 1829-30 with the British diplomats charged with negotiating Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. This complex and ambitious painting drew on his experiences, and shows a family of Greek prisoners of war being sold in Constantinople’s slave market. At the heart of the image is a Greek girl being bought by a Turkish pasha on horseback. She turns away in distress, while behind her a child is taken from the arms of its mother. To the right, a Greek man is being dragged away, looking back desperately at the woman he loves being sold.

Allan’s painting was clearly intended to signal his opposition to slavery: it was exhibited ...

Dated 1838
Oil on panel
129.0 x 198.0cm
NG 2400
Image and text © National Galleries of Scotland, 2020