Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Figurative art in Cairene streets and interiors during the early 20th century

  • Mercedes Volait
Tuesday 7 November 2017
LUCIS Fall Fellow 2017: Mercedes Volait
Van Wijkplaats
Van Wijkplaats 2
2311 BX Leiden

Present collectors in the Middle East are known for their massive buying of Orientalist paintings in order to “recapture the culture” and access historic visual imagery of the region, whatever the reckoned flaws of Orientalist representation. What Western academia has deemed paradoxical has nowadays become mainstream collecting practice in the Gulf, and elsewhere in the region. The reception of figurative art in Cairo during the early 1900s similarly reveals unexpected situations and phenomena. Despite Islamic aniconism, human figuration abounded in the city, both in the public and the private sphere. Using scattered and fragmentary evidence on major Egyptian art collections and public art, the lecture will reflect upon the presence of human representations, in painting and sculpture, on architecture and in streets, private galleries and interiors, and will pay attention to the public discussions it may have instigated.

Joachim Richard, [Installation of the paintings gallery at the town house of collector Mohamed Mahmoud Bey Khalil in Cairo, 1927] (Courtesy of Archives d’architecture du XXe siècle, Paris)
This website uses cookies.  More information.