Ellis,Tristram James (1844-1922)
Inscribed recto: Cyprus 1878 ; Inscribed on verso: The artist’s mules at a rich Cypriote’s house. no. 51.
Tristram Ellis was a professional artist who came to Cyprus in 1878 and stayed for a few months with the aim of portraying the new British acquisition for the British public. He published a book titled Twelve Etchings of the Principal Views and Places of Interest in Cyprus (1879). While on the island, he executed more than eighty watercolours of Cyprus which he then exhibited at the Belgian Gallery in London. The picture underlines the artist’s unspoken colonial attitudes. In the interior of a traditional Cypriot house, the servants, Greeks, subservient and awkward attend to the animals on the ground floor. The artist, dressed in white and wearing a pith helmet (an insignia of the ruling class) ascends the staircase to the upper quarters. In addition to the obvious implications pertaining to a hierarchical ordering of the master occupying a higher space than that of the subject people, the painting echoes eighteenth century practices in which the artist appears in the picture. In a rather bizarre way, it also precedes post-modernist literary practices in which the author is objectified by being placed in the text. Through the half opened door, the sight of a minaret adds another oriental dimension to the watercolour.
24 x 54 cm
Signed: Tristram Ellis
Portraits, Clothing And Dress, Traditional Costumes, Buildings, Animals
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