Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D

Bekçi, or watchman

Watercolour
about 1809 (Painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Watchmen armed with clubs formed patrols to give the alert when fire broke out, as it did frequently. [See D.136-1895]. They gave warning by striking their metal-tipped clubs on the pavement.
This picture was one of a series commissioned by Stratford Canning (later Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe), 1786-1880. He began his long diplomatic career in Turkey as first secretary to Robert Adair on his mission to Istanbul in 1808. On arrival Canning soon arranged to see officially (and unofficially) all manner of Ottoman institutions, buildings and customs. What made his curiosity really valuable is that he hired a local artist to make this large series of views and studies of what he had seen. The identity of the artist is unknown, though Turkish scholars believe that he was part of the studio or circle of Konstantin Kapidagli. His style combines the dense and brilliant water and bodycolour used by Ottoman artists with European conventions of representation and perspective.
As a young man, the artist and future neo-classical architect Charles Cockerell went to Istanbul in 1810, stayed at the embassy, and even met Byron there. There Cockerell (with an interpreter) met and discussed painting technique with this Greek artist whom, frustratingly, he did not name in his letters. Cockerell's copies of the Greek's architectural views are now in the British Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum finally acquired the original set of drawings from Canning's daughter Charlotte in 1895


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Water- and bodycolour
Brief Description
Bekçi, or watchman, about 1809. Anonymous Greek artist
Physical Description
A man armed with a sword, holding a large club
Dimensions
  • Height: 20.8cm
  • Width: 16.4cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Numbered 79
Object history
Originally the paintings in this series [D.23-150-1895] were bound in a volume. It was bought by the Museum in 1895 from `Miss Canning' [i.e. Charlotte Canning, daughter of Stratford Canning] for 10 Guineas.
Subject depicted
Summary
Watchmen armed with clubs formed patrols to give the alert when fire broke out, as it did frequently. [See D.136-1895]. They gave warning by striking their metal-tipped clubs on the pavement.

This picture was one of a series commissioned by Stratford Canning (later Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe), 1786-1880. He began his long diplomatic career in Turkey as first secretary to Robert Adair on his mission to Istanbul in 1808. On arrival Canning soon arranged to see officially (and unofficially) all manner of Ottoman institutions, buildings and customs. What made his curiosity really valuable is that he hired a local artist to make this large series of views and studies of what he had seen. The identity of the artist is unknown, though Turkish scholars believe that he was part of the studio or circle of Konstantin Kapidagli. His style combines the dense and brilliant water and bodycolour used by Ottoman artists with European conventions of representation and perspective.

As a young man, the artist and future neo-classical architect Charles Cockerell went to Istanbul in 1810, stayed at the embassy, and even met Byron there. There Cockerell (with an interpreter) met and discussed painting technique with this Greek artist whom, frustratingly, he did not name in his letters. Cockerell's copies of the Greek's architectural views are now in the British Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum finally acquired the original set of drawings from Canning's daughter Charlotte in 1895
Bibliographic Reference
Charles Newton `Stratford Canning's Pictures of Turkey', The V&A Album, Vol. 3, 1984, pp.76-83
Collection
Accession Number
D.101-1895

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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