Bosphorus Kiosk - Expo Paris 1867

Bosphorus Kiosk at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1867

To be appreciated in its true light, this elegant pavilion, an exact copy of the old pleasure houses situated along the Bosphorus on the coast of Asia, would only need to be surrounded by jasmines, sycamores or carob trees in front of the blue sea, criss-crossed by long-sailed kaics. Its external decoration, whose details of painting, stained glass, enamelled bricks and gilded arabesques excite general curiosity, is an exclusive specimen of Turkish art.

Ah, we Westerners, who think we know everything about luxury refinements, have much to learn from the Orientals, not only in the art of bathing, but also in the art of interior decorations. And if we were to listen to M. Léon Parvillée, assistant architect to the Ottoman Imperial Commission, who has brought us such beautiful things from his long explorations as far as Persia, he would tell us a lot about this.

See this salon which holds the middle of the kiosk, leaving four separate retreats in the corners of the building. A wide couch surrounds it, covered with its beautiful red curly woolen cloths. In the centre is a basin that shoots small jasmine-scented jets of water. It is here that the contemplative Muslim makes the kief, letting the hours pass while smoking the chibouque or the narghiléh and taking coffee, walking his dreamy glance of the vault decorated with arabesques, with the gilded panellings and the brilliant stained glasses.

We owe to M. Léon Parvillée the importation into France of these beautiful enamelled bricks, the secret of which had hitherto remained in the East, and which will end up supplanting the stucco of which we have so much abused. From Persia, which had probably taken them from China, the glazed bricks had passed to Turkey, where the Venetians, in their age-old wars, had taken them in their turn. If we are to believe the attraction they exert on visitors to the Bosphorus kiosk, it is likely that France will henceforth inherit the ancient factories of the Orient for glazed bricks.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée