Thursday,16 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1307, (11- 17 August 2016)
Thursday,16 August, 2018
Issue 1307, (11- 17 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly


This week's focus sheds light on the exceptional career of Egyptian-Lebanese artist Georges Hanna Sabbagh (1887-1951).

Sabbagh was born in 1887 into a wealthy Roman Catholic family of Syrian-Lebanese origin that had settled in Egypt's second largest city, in Alexandria.

He was educated at the Collège des Pères Jésuites in Cairo before his father, Hanna Sabbagh Bey, one of the stakeholders of the Heliopolis urban development project, sent his son to Paris in 1906 to study law. During that period, Sabbagh showed little interest in his studies and instead started to take painting lessons at the Académie Ranson in 1910. He studied art in Paris, being the first Egyptian at the Louvre School. He was a pupil of Paul Sérusier, Félix Vallotton and the symbolist Maurice Denis. From that time on, he entirelydedicated his career exclusively to art, forgetting all about law for good.

He has been able to combine the vision of the creative architect and the visual artist with his rich expressive abilities and the complicated geographically horizontal ground, the artist was able through his creative ability to add expressive dimensions and not documenting to the art of the landscape. He excelled in portraits, nudes and landscapes both in France and in Egypt and was enchanted by the old districts of Cairo.He was able to create in the end of his career a new attitude towards realism.

Light in the paintings of Sabbaghis extremely unique; its main source was the light of the sky coming from the sun rays that fade by the rotation of the earth.  

The artist reduced the sunlight and then spread it all over again on the walls of his houses in an easy, flawless, firming and with brilliant harmonyat the same time as it shines throughout the scene of the painting.

The light of the mountains of Lebanon skulking among the trees of the forest was brilliantly depicted in some of his paintings.  

Sabbagh obtained French citizenship in 1930, so may be rightly considered both an Egyptian and a French painter.

Sabbagh's works are on permanent show at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art

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