Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Statue of Lord Byron in Albanian Costume in Tirana

Thanks to Endri Misho, I learned that there will soon be a national design competition to create a statue of the famous English Romantic poet, Lord Byron, that will be positioned in the square at the head of the street in Tirana already bearing his name. In the proposed full-length statue, Byron will be dressed in a traditional Albanian costume that he had purchased in Janina.

Lord Byron has long been considered a true friend of Albania, and wrote about them in "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" - a portion of which he wrote during his visit to Tepelene in southern Albania in 1809. Near his proposed statue will also be placed a full-length reproduction of Lord Byron in Albanian costume that was painted by the fashionable London portrait artist Thomas Phillips.

In the summer of 1813 in London, Byron posed for Phillips in the Albanian costume he had purchased in Janina a few years earlier. Titled "Portrait of a Nobleman in the Dress of Albanian", the original portrait now hangs in the British Embassy in Athens while another copy by Phillips is located in the National Portrait Gallery in London. An additional copy, commissioned by Byron's publisher, John Murray, is also on display at the publishing firm's offices in London.

The design competition was recently anounced by Tirana Mayor, Edi Rama, himself an artist, who is responsible for the imaginative, huge, absract paintings on several otherwise drab buildings in Tirana Square.

A copy of Byron's portrait mentioned above will soon appear in this space, however, viewers can see it beforehand - along with a model dressed in Byron's actual Albanian costume - by visiting www.frosina.org/about/infobits.asp?id=135 titled "Lord Byron and his Albanian Costume."


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