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Watercolour - Albanian Soldier
  • Albanian Soldier
    Jean-Baptiste Hilaire, born 1753
  • Enlarge image

Albanian Soldier

  • Object:


  • Date:

    1778 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jean-Baptiste Hilaire, born 1753 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink, and watercolour, over pencil

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Shell International and the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case 89, shelf SCX, box 9

Hilaire, a pupil of Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, was one of several artists employed by the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, the French ambassador in Istanbul, 1784-1792. He had accompanied the Comte on an earlier visit to Greece and Turkey in 1776-79, and contributed numerous illustrations to his publication Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce, Paris, 1782.

The Albanians were popularly supposed to be some of the fiercest warriors in the Ottoman dominions, and were frequently depicted by travellers who could easily recognise their distinctive costume. Hilair was a meticulous draftsman, using the traditional technique of fine pen and ink drawing, coloured with careful washes of watercolour. Here he has shown in fine detail such things as the splendid coat, the tasselled cap, the embroidered bag, the patterned leggings, and the enormously long çubuk, or cornel-wood tobacco pipe. However, Hilair reminds his audience of the martial nature of this Albanian by indicating the partly visible barrel of his long musket, although the rear view does not permit illustration of the sword, dagger and pistols, normally carried in the belt or sash.


1778 (painted)


Jean-Baptiste Hilaire, born 1753 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink, and watercolour, over pencil

Marks and inscriptions

Signed and dated hilaire 1778. Inscribed illegibly on the back


Height: 19.4 cm, Width: 12.8 cm

Object history note

According to Rodney Searight: - `Bt. fr. C.Powney, June 1965, £65 '.

Historical context note

Hilair must have made this drawing during his journey with the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier. The image is not reproduced in Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce, Paris, 1782, but there is a group of Albanian soldiers in similar attire (Vol.1, Pl. 2), and one figure in a similar stance (Vol.1, Pl. 59): see SP.162.

Descriptive line

Watercolour, Albanian Soldier, 1778, by Jean-Baptiste Hilair (or Hilaire)

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Charles Newton `Images of the Ottoman Empire', 2007, illustrated on page 35

Subjects depicted

Çubuk; Albanians; Smoking




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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