Musician at the Mosque

This post is not – I repeat, NOT – an attempt to address or make a statement about the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy taking place here in New York. In fact, I can’t stand the issue anymore and wish the whole thing would just go away. It’s truly bringing out the worst in people on both sides. All I want to do is post this painting for “Music Monday” since I find it very impressive in its detail, colors, and authenticity.

The artist is Polish-born Stanislaus von Chlebowski (1835 – 1884). Chlebowski studied in St. Petersburg, Munich, and Paris where he was a pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme. In 1864, Sultan Abdulaziz, reigning leader of the Ottoman Empire, invited Chlebowski to serve as court painter. So the artist left Europe for Constantinople where he lived and worked for eleven years. The paintings he produced are just some examples of the “Orientalism” trend in art during the 19th century.

I’m not able to identify the instrument and would appreciate it if someone could help me out. It’s definitely not an oud, and it appears to be played plucked rather than with a bow. In any case, it’s beautifully adorned with the hanging feathers and beadwork. I also like Chlebowski’s composition in that we can see some architectural details of the mosque behind the musician. Wait a minute, is that a mosque or a “community center”? Sorry. Just kidding 😆

This is A Musician Playing Before a Mosque in Constantinople:

4 thoughts on “Musician at the Mosque

  1. Andrew says:

    Before reading this post I wondered if this was by Gérôme, who painted some similar subjects.

    • artmodel says:


      Yes he did, and incredibly too. More great examples of Orientalism. Chlebwoski was clearly an attentive protégé.

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Bruce says:

    I believe it is a tanbur or a bouzouki , but the tanbur had only 2 strings and the bouzouki had 4 pairs of strings, so, how much is an artistic license?

    • artmodel says:


      Thanks so much! i Googled both of those and I think you’re right on with tanbur. It gets my vote at least, mainly because of the longer neck.

      You’re so smart 🙂


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