BORN TO THE PURPLE
Antoine Helbert’s magnificent painting doesn’t lie. Dozens of chunks of multicolored marble litter the Palace site. They’re grey until it rains, and then they’re a rainbow: wine-purple pophyry, speckled green malachite, white flecked with carnelian, saffron, deep emerald green veined with black, glittering white, translucent pale amber.
I think the Palace looked like a painting of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s, now in the Getty, entitled “Spring.” Brilliant colors juxtaposed with statues and frescoes, a painting in polished marble, and a pophyry birth chamber giving rise to the expression “born to the purple.”
Sir Lawrence painted this in 1901, and I will bet a Byzantine brick that he visited Istanbul first and saw what was left of the Palace. The layout is the same, and so are the colors of the marble.