Entry of Mehmed II into Constantinople on the twenty ninth of May1453
Having studied at the Toulouse School of Fine Arts before attending the Paris School of Fine Arts, Benjamin-Constant’s originality and skill as an orientalist painter came to the fore during the eighteen months he spent in Morocco between 1872 and 1873. His Entry of Mehmed II into Constantinople on the twenty ninth of May 1453 (1876) shows his great sense of theatricality and of scene-setting and describes a very real historical episode in a fancy Orient more literary than documented. The accumulation of accurately rendered objects, a typical decor in space and time, bright colours, serve to evoke a mythical, lascivious, cruel Orient, true to the clichés of the fin-de-siècle. It is also true to the extreme violence of the historical event, the end of the Roman Empire in the
East, which remains nonetheless a founding moment for our humanist civilisation, in that by bringing the Middle Ages to an end, it also ushered in the new age of the Renaissance.
Presented to the Salon in 1876, the work was purchased by the State for the Musée des Augustins.