Albanian Art

Robert Elsie

Kolë Idromeno (1860-1939)

Painter, photographer and architect Kolë Idromeno (1860-1939) is perhaps the best-known of the early figures of Albanian painting. He was born in Shkodra and began drawing and doing water colours at an early age (1871-1874). With the help of Pjetër Marubi, from whom he also learned the art of photography, he was able to travel to Venice in 1875 to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, but he did not survive the rigors of formal training and gave up after six months. He remained in Venice, though, and worked for a couple of years as the assistant to an established Venetian painter, returning to Albania in 1878. In 1883, he opened a photo studio with cameras imported from the Pathé company in France. In 1912, he became the first person in Albania to import moving picture equipment and to show films. In August of that year, he signed a contract with the Josef Stauber company in Austria to set up the country's first, rudimentary public cinema. As a painter, Idromeno preferred urban subjects, such as in his Dasma shkodrane (Wedding in Shkodra), 1924, but also did portraits of intellectuals and nationalist figures. Particularly well-known is the portrait of his half-veiled Motra Tone (My Sister Tone), 1883. Landscapes and religious subjects also occur. His paintings were shown at international art exhibitions in Budapest (1898), Rome (1925), Bari (1931), Rome (1936) and New York (1939). Kolë Idromeno is also remembered as a sculptor and as an architect of public buildings in Shkodra.
01 Kolë Idromeno (1860-1939), 1882.

02 My Sister Tone, 1883
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).

03 Wedding in Shkodra, 1924
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).

04 Portrait of Gjuzepina, 1920
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).

05 Self-portrait, 1931
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).

06 Portrait of a Man Wearing a Hat, 1931
(Fico collection).

07 Courtyard of a House in Shkodra, 1933
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).

08 Portrait of my Niece, 1932
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).

09 Portrait of a Man
(National Art Gallery, Tirana).
Idromeno01 Idromeno02 Idromeno03
Idromeno04 Idromeno05 Idromeno06
Idromeno07 Idromeno08 Idromeno09