Tahia Halim (Egyptian, 1919-2003)
signed 'T.Halim' (lower left)
oil on thick card
3118 x 2238in. (79 x 57cm.)
Painted circa 1966
Private Collection.
Private Collection, Poland.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Stockholm, Modern Art in Home Environment Gallery, Tahia Halim, 1966.
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Lot Essay

One of the foremost modern Egyptian female artists, Tahia Halim’s compositions with her wild brushstrokes and use of earthy tones, explored the grand social themes of war, rebellion, revolution and poverty. Best known for her authentic scenes depicting rural daily life and the folk customs of Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan, Halim’s paintings celebrate the traditional heritage of the Nubian people. So captivated were the artistic circles in Egypt by her expressive exaggeration of form, Halim was offered the International Guggenheim Award for Egypt in 1958.

The present work was included in a solo exhibition in Stockholm 1966 at the ‘Modern Konst I Hemmiljjo’ (Modern Art in Home Environment), a highly regarded modern Swedish art gallery. It was here that the Croneberg family--Mr Croneberg the Swedish ambassader to Egypt in the early 1960s--was introduced to the artist and later that year, invited Halim to their beautiful family estate home outside of Stockholm in Gärdesta, as illustrated in the newspaper article here.

In the composition, Halim depicts a solitary Nubian man playing a Kissar, the traditional instrument also known as the Nubian Lyre. In the background, several boats journey down the Nile, a direct reference to the migration of the Nubian people in their escape from the flooding of their lands. The protagonist is somewhat forlorn in his forced displacement, taking solace in the soothing sounds of the instrument, which lends an authenticity in keeping with the subject.

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