Friday, January 20, 2017
When he tried sketching in Albania around 1849, Edward Lear (British, 1812-1888) encountered some opposition from the local residents.
"No sooner had I settled to draw than forth came the populace of Elbassán, one by one, and two by two, to a mighty host they grew, and there were soon from eighty to a hundred spectators collected, with earnest curiosity in every look; and when I had sketched such of the principal buildings as they could recognize, a universal shout of 'Shaitán!' (Devil) burst from the crowd; and strange to relate, the greater part of the mob put their fingers into their mouths and whistled furiously, after the manner of butcher-boys in England."
"Whether this was a sort of spell against my magic I do not know...[Later] one of those tiresome Dervíshes—in whom, with their green turbans, Elbassán is rich—soon came up, and yelled, 'Shaitán scroo!—Shaitán!' ('The Devil draws! Devil!') in my ears with all his force; seizing my [sketch]book also, with an awful frown, shutting it, and pointing to the sky, as intimating that heaven would not allow such impiety. It was in vain after this to attempt more; the 'Shaitán' cry was raised in one wild chorus—and I took the consequences of having laid by my fez for comfort's sake—in the shape of a horrible shower of stones, which pursued me to the covered streets..."
From Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania (The Balkans) by Edward Lear