Thursday, October 11, 2018

03 Paintings, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, of the 18th & 19th C., with Footnotes. #34

Mahmoud Said, 1897-1964, EGYPTIAN
Oil on canvas
79.5 by 65cm.; 31 1/2 by 25 1/2 in.
Private collection

Ferdous, Mme Batanouni Bey, whose name means 'Paradise' in Arabic, was a lady of prominence in Alexandria, even serving as Queen Farida’s lady in waiting. A philanthropist by nature, she was one of the founders of the Red Crescent Society in Egypt, and spearheaded initiatives to improve orphanages and develop their financial sufficiency. Seated regally, Portrait de Mme Batanouni Bey shows Ferdous as a noblewoman, while retaining a connection to her Egyptian background. Ferdous embodies both the liberated Egyptian woman of the 1920s and the universal Art Deco style from the Belle Époque era of Alexandria. Ferdous was a pioneering and an independent woman. Said represented her with reverence as symbols of Egypt's national identity. The painting captures the heritage and splendor of an era in Alexandria that was fast fading.  It renders the viewer with nostalgia of the vibrant and cosmopolitan Alexandria of Mahmoud Saïd.

The beauty of the woman is unmistakably Egyptian, depicted with characteristic full lips, high cheekbones and dusky skin, imbued with a serene yet sensual sense of magnificence. Saïd’s masterful grasp of light is particularly evident in the distinctive luminosity of her skin. The rich palette of this painting draws on the exotic colours of Egypt, accentuating the artist's affinity for the distinctive colours of the Middle East. Indeed, the work cannot simply be said to be a portrait, as the background encapsulates all the components of Saïd’s celebrated landscapes – from the boats on the Nile to the traditional buildings. More on Mme Batanouni Bey

Portrait of Mrs Batanouni Bey

Mahmoud Said, 1897-1964, EGYPTIAN. Born into a wealthy Alexandrian family, Mahmoud Said first studied jurisprudence at the French School of Law in Cairo in the 1910s. During his studies, he became interested in painting, and joined the studios of Italian painters Amelia Casonato da Forno and Arturo Zanieri, before travelling to France to study in Paris, briefly at the Académie Julian. Though he worked for almost thirty years as a lawyer and then a judge, he continued to paint in his free time until he quit law in the late 1940s and devoted himself to art completely. He is considered the foremost painter of the ‘Pioneer’ generation of Egyptian artists, renowned for his bold, richly coloured portraits, nudes, and landscapes. He painted continuously until his death in 1964.

 Said’s works are housed in private and public collections including Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, Cairo; Mahmoud Said Museum, Alexandria, and Ministry of Culture, Egypt. More on Mahmoud Said

Portrait of Mrs Batanouni Bey

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