Turkish "Bashi-bazouk" Mercenary Soldiers Playing Chess

Jean-Léon Gérômecirca 1870-1873

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art
New Orleans, United States

Like many Frenchman after the Napoleonic Wars, Gerome was fascinated by the Middle East. His numerous sketching trips to the Near East and North Africa provided material for his rigorously detailed "Orientalist" scenes. In this painting, Turkish "Bashi bazouk" soldiers play chess while others look on. Because of their exotic costumes and, perhaps, too, because of their notorious reputation, Gerome frequently portrayed these mercenaries. "Bashi bazouk," meaning "leaderless," were irregular Ottoman troops infamous for their indiscipline, plundering, and brutality.


  • Title: Turkish "Bashi-bazouk" Mercenary Soldiers Playing Chess
  • Creator: Jean-Léon Gérôme
  • Date Created: circa 1870-1873
  • Location Created: Frace
  • Physical Dimensions: framed: 37 x 31 1/4 in (93.98 x 79.38 cm)
  • Provenance: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Chapman H. Hyams, accession number: 15.4
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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