"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, February 2, 2020

John B. Carmac

This 1853 portrait of John B. Carmac in Greek Evzone Costume by Walter Gould hangs in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.
Walter Gould painted this image in Florence in 1853, soon after he returned from Greece and Turkey. He posed his sitter wearing Greek military costume associated with the crack troops that fought the Turkish occupation of Greece. Such costumes alluding to Greek independence became popular with visiting American tourists, who fondly saw parallels to their own war of independence. Gould portrays Carmac as if he were a local resident, holding a long-stemmed pipe; a hookah, or water pipe, rests on the floor beside the window... Gould was fascinated by the smoking habits of the people he met on his travels and, after witnessing the Ramadan fast in Turkey, was shocked that after having no food or drink all day, “the first thing a Turk makes a dive at . . . is his pipe.” (Letter from the artist, Kutahia, Asia Minor, four days from Constantinople, July 9, 1851, SAAM curatorial file) -- SAAM
Gerald Ackerman in his 1994 book American Orientalists comments that “To the disgrace of scholars, John Carmac has not been identified. ”

The Long Pipe

The Hookah

The Sword

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