Drawing of a Croatian woman

Drawing of a Croatian woman
Accession number: 
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Drawing in pencil by Arthur Evans of a woman’s head and shoulders, captioned ‘Phoenician type’, identified as a portrait of a peasant from Breno, Croatia, seen in the market place of Dubrovnik.

Artist: Arthur John Evans
Date of drawing: September 1875
Continent: Europe
Geographical area: Southern Europe
Country: Croatia
Region/Place: Dubrovnik
Cultural group: European Croat
Format: Drawing
Size: 114 x 82 mm
Acquisition: Joan Evans. Donated August 1941


Primary documentation: ‘[p.588] Dr. JOAN EVANS, from the property of the late SIR ARTHUR EVANS, Youlbury, Boars Hill, Oxford. [List of items follows]’; ‘[p.590] 21 Original pencil sketches, types & scenery. BALKANS’: Pitt Rivers Museum accession records (Donations X, 1937–1941), pp.588, 590. Annotations on drawing: ‘Bremese/ N[ea]r Ragusa/ Phoenician type’ (written in pencil below drawing).

Research notes: It has been identified by Philip Grover that this original drawing was used as the artwork for a woodcut engraving by ‘W. J. M.’ (initials of engraver) subsequently published in the British illustrated newspaper The Graphic, 9 October 1875, p.348, captioned at bottom of the page ‘3. A Brenese, sketched near Ragusa.’ The same engraving was also published in Arthur J. Evans, Through Bosnia and the Herzegóvina on Foot during the Insurrection, August and September 1875 (London, 1876), p.389, printed with the caption ‘Head of Brenese Peasant’. Evans recorded in the volume: ‘At the present day the Canalese peasants who inhabit the district about the site of ancient Epidaurus differ so essentially in fact and form from the surrounding Sclavonic races whose language they speak, and are so Oriental in their appearance, that Appendini, the historian of Ragusa, has recorded an opinion that they are nothing else than descendants of the old Phoenician colonists of this coast. He would be indeed a bold man who should accept this theory without reserve, but I can bear the most emphatic testimony to the existence of a strikingly Oriental type in this neighbourhood. In Ragusa Vecchia itself the countenances struck me as of ordinary Serbian or Italian types. But in the market-place of Ragusa I noticed three peasant women whose faces bespoke, as plainly as faces can speak, an entirely different origin. On enquiring whence they came I found them to be native of the Golfo di Breno, a cove about three miles distant from the site of Epidaurus. The faces were strikingly alike. They were long and narrow, the nose thin and long, very finely chiselled, and inclined to be aquiline, they eyes black, and their tresses to match. The big gold beads of her necklace, and the brilliant red and orange kerchief that coifs her head, are the same as those worn by her Serbo-Italian neighbours; but, assuredly, the face of the girl I sketched is that of a Syrian rather than a Serbian beauty!’: Through Bosnia and the Herzegóvina on Foot, pp.388–389. Note that Ragusa is the German name for Dubrovnik, Croatia.