Three Interesting Topographical Costume Studies
Three Interesting Topographical Costume Studies
Three Interesting Topographical Costume Studies

Three Interesting Topographical Costume Studies

1800 to 1900 Europe

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Three Interesting Topographical Costume Studies
Watercolour on paper, each one entitled beneath in ink:
‘A native of the Camira Mountains in Albania and the wolf dog of that country’
‘A native of the Island of Lefsa in the Adriatic carrying water to the English camp’ (Now Lefkáda in the Ionian Islands)
‘A fisherman of Venice and his son’
All three inscribed above in pencil ‘Admiral Hollis’
Circa 1820 – 30

Size: 26cm high, 21 cm wide – 10¼ ins high, 8¼ ins wide
Until 1820 the Ottoman Empire embraced the whole of Greece, which had remained largely unvisited before the late 18th century. However a genuine Enlightenment interest in scholarship combined with a desire for cheaply acquiring antiquities inspired a dramatic growth of archaeological interest in Greece in the 18th and early 19th centuries. By then Athens was witnessing a veritable invasion of European artists, the great majority of whom were uninspired architectural draughts-men. The Comte de Forbin noted in 1819 ‘They establish themselves in Athens for eight years in order to draw three columns.... and it is only after the efforts of many years that their sad watercolours reach the highest degree of boring perfection’. However, at the time of Forbin’s visit an interest was growing in Greece and its neighbours prompted by the social and political turmoil that would lead to the Greek War of Independence of 1820. The romantic espousal of the Greek cause by the likes of Byron was mirrored by the war artists began to portray the country’s traditions and folklore and to enliven their deserted architectural views with addition of peasants in their dress.
Albania was noted for the military dictatorship of Ali Pasha whose court was described by Byron in his poem ‘Childe Harold’. Known as the warlord of Western Greece he established links with the Romanians and Serb rebels to help the Greek subjects of the Ottoman Empire overthrow Turkish domination. The revolt gained the popular support of the Christian world and many foreign volunteers, of whom Byron who went out in 1823 was the most celebrated, joined the Greek forces. In 1827 Britain and Russia at the Treaty of London offered to mediate and secure an autonomous Greek state. The Turks refused and Britain, Russia and France sent a combined fleet which destroyed the Egyptian fleet a Navarino. The following year the Russians seized Adrianople and threatened Constantinople. The Turks agreed to make peace in 1829 and the conference of London in 1832 confirmed Greek independence. It is most probable that Admiral Hollis played a part in these naval conflicts and that he painted these watercolours during the time of the Greek War for Independence.

Watercolour on Paper
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