In July 1840 Lewis travelled to Constantinople via Albania, Corfu and Athens, returning to Cairo in 1841 where he remained for ten years. He was the first British artist to settle for such a sustained period in the Levant, but not the only artist there at the time; as David Wilkie (1785-1841), David Roberts (1796-1864) and William Müller (1812-1845) also all spent time there between 1838 and 1841, making sketches of the exotic sights to fascinate the Victorian population back in London.
Lewis seems to have found several Suliot warriors to pose for him, probably when he visited Corfu in 1840. Souliots would have been well known to British art lovers in the 1840s for their resistance against Ottoman rule and their participation in the Greek War of Independence. Another drawing of Suliot warrior by Lewis was sold Christie's, London, 5 July 2011, lot 185.
We are grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.