Born in Vrsac of Serbian parentage, Paul Joanovitch studied under Leopold Karl Müller, the Director of the Vienna Academy, himself an Orientalist painter. Joanovitch made his debut in 1882 with a painting entitled Wounded which earned him a Hungarian State grant after its exhibition in Budapest. In the mid 1880s, Joanovitch spent some years in Munich, during which he began to focus almost exclusively on Orientalist subjects.
The sitter in The Resting Sentinel is ethnically of Macedonian origin, to be more specific he is an Albanian soldier, yet in the Orientalist genre one can observe some inconsistencies in their identification. For example Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Bida were among the artists to have unfailingly identified these soldiers as Arnaut, or Albanian (fig. 1) in their paintings and drawings. There are also those such as Charles-Emile Callande de Champmartin (fig. 2) who have titled and identified them as Turks. The main reason for this is probably due to the fact that considerable numbers of Albanian sentinels would have been located in Constantinople and would have served as colorful additions to the bustling cosmopolitan street life of this capital.
(fig. 1) Alexandre Bida, Soldat albanais fumante le tchoubouk, Château de Malmaison, Bois-Préau.
(fig. 2) Charles-Emile Callande de Champmartin, Fumeurs turcs dans une ruelle de Constantinople, Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts.