This portrait was painted while Lambert was staying at Cannakkale (also called Chanak), a small city on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles Strait, where the Australian Historical Mission to Gallipoli spent a week from 7 to 14 February 1919, before crossing to the Gallipoli peninsula. Lambert wrote to Amy on 14 February 1919: ‘Snow Blizzards Ice & general discomfort. No coal or wood and a damp gloomy fifth rate house called the Lion Hotel, may I live to forget it.’ (ML MSS 97/4, item 1).
Lambert painted this head-and-shoulder portrait of an unidentified Turk in a turban looking into the distance with a proud expression and thrusting chin, capturing the Turk’s dignity and inner life. He has a pleasantly browned complexion, a dark moustache, light brown eyes and dark eyebrows and chin stubble. Lambert drew the outline of the head with pencil and built up the features and costume with deft strokes of watercolour wash.
This is one of a number of images of Turks and Arabs which Lambert made during his period as a war artist.