Mahmoud Mukhtar, Egyptian sculptor (1891-1934) is one of most famous Egyptian sculptors in the 20th century. He is considered the father of modern Egyptian and Arab sculpture.
Son of the mayor of a small village in the Nile Delta, he grew-up in Cairo. Early in his childhood, Mukhtar started making sculptures out of mud near the canal. In 1908, He was among the first batch of students of the newly founded Egyptian School of Fine Arts . The professors detected very early the talent of Mahmoud Mukhtar in sculpture and assigned him a special atelier within the school. He started sculpting scenes inspired by Egyptian peasant and city life.
Egyptian prince, Kamal Youssef, a major sponsor of the institute at the time, remarked Mukhtar’s talent. He decided to send him to Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris to continue his education under the supervision of prominent artists.
During his studies in Paris, Mahmoud Mukhtar became a committed nationalist and used his art to support the Egyptian national movement. In 1919, in the middle of the Egyptian revolution against the British occupation, he sculpted his masterpiece, “The Renaissance of Egypt”. With the miniature of this statue, he won the gold medal at the annual French Artists Exhibition held in the “Grand Palais” in 1920.
Mukhtar was the first Arab artist to display his artwork at an international exhibition in Paris. His art was respected and appreciated by the official French circles in the artistic field. He also enjoyed a large notoriety and respect among Egyptian people. Between 1928 and 1930, he sculpted two statues of the Egyptian national leader Saad Zaghloul exposed in Cairo and Alexandria.
Mahmoud Mukhtar contributed to the development of the study and the renaissance of the Higher Fine Arts School, as well as its participation in the selection of talented people in sculpture art in order to send them on scholarships abroad.
In 1938, four years after his death, the Egyptian government decided to create a museum for Mahmoud Mukhtar artwork. The conditions of the Second World War delayed the opening of the Museum. It was finally opened in July 1952 after the revolution of the free officers. The Museum, located in Tahrir square houses more than 170 items related to the artist including 85 bronze, stone, basalt, marble, granite and plaster works.
In 1991, Egypt issued a stamp with the portrait of the artist and two of his sculptures.
Catalog reference: Yvert & Tellier 1432