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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Zamalek exhibition offers glimpse of royal faces from a bygone era

Ahram Online visits an exhibition at the Centre of Arts dedicated to the Mohamed Ali dynasty

Zeinab El-Gundy , Wednesday 20 Mar 2019
Features of an era exhibit in Cairo
The bust statue of Mohamed Ali Pasha and in the back the bronze statue of his son Khedive Ismail and the oil painting of his grandson Khedive Tawfik as part of "Features of an era" exhibit, hosted at Aisha Fahmy Palace. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
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An exhibition at the Centre of Arts in Zamalek offers a fascinating glimpse into Egypt’s monarchical period, with a collection of paintings and statues depicting the Mohamed Ali dynasty which ruled Egypt for nearly 150 years.

The “Features of an Era” exhibition, which opened in January and closes next week, is showcasing a number of items that have never before been displayed for the public.

Mohamed Ali Pasha Bust
The marble statue of Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of Modern Egypt in the middle of the main hall in Aisha Fahmy's Palace standing between oil painting of his grandsons Khedive Tawfik and King Fouad I (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

According to the director of centre and the organiser of the exhibition Ehab El-Laban, “Features of an Era” is the newest in the series of exhibitions called “Treasures of our Museums” hosted at the centre since its inauguration, focusing on unique items from Egyptian museums.

Said Pasha and Khedive Tawfik Pasha
Oil painting of Khedive Tawfik and his uncle Said Pasha at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

The Centre of Arts is located in Aisha Fahmy’s Palace, a neo-classical European architectural gem in upscale Zamalek. The palace was built in 1907 was turned in to a centre of arts by the Ministry of Culture in 1975.

It was closed for the past two decades for renovations and was reopened in May 2017. It has since begun to host a series of exhibitions.

The first exhibition’s theme was paintings by internationally renowned artists in Egyptian museums. The second was “ancient textiles” from the Islamic and Coptic museums.

Stained glass at Aisha Fahmy Palace
The stained glass and staircase at Aisha Fahmy's Palace in Zamalek, Cairo. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

The current exhibition showcases 120 painting and artefacts that were already in the less-known Al-Gazeera Arts Museum, which has been closed for nearly two decades due to maintenance and renovation work.

Ibrahim pasha
An undated Marble bust statue of Egypt's Ibrahim Pasha and a 19th-century oil painting depicting him as part of "Features of an era" exhibition at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of Art" in Cairo (Photo:Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

Most of the artefacts are paintings and portraits of members of the Mohamed Ali family, including Mohamed Ali himself, considered the founder of the modern Egyptian state.

Mohamed Ali Pasha
A 19-century oil painting of Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of Modern Egypt at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo:Zeinab El-Gundy)

The Mohamed Ali dynasty started in 1804 when Mohamed Ali Pasha, an Albanian commander in the Ottoman army, was chosen by the public to rule Egypt to break away from Ottoman rule following Napoleon’s short invasion of Egypt in the late 18thcentury.

Mohamed Ali Pasha
A bronze statue depicting Mohamed Ali Pasha riding a horse at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)

For nearly 150 years Egypt saw ups and downs under the rule of Mohamed Ali royal family.

Mohamed Ali Pasha
A 19-century oil painting of Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of Modern Egypt at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo.(Photo:Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

The dynasty’s rule came to an end on 23 July 1952 when a group of Egyptian army officers, led by Mohamed Naguib and Gamal Abdel-Nasser, overthrew King Farouk, sending him into exile in Italy, where he lived until his death.

On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian republic was officially declared, putting an official end to the monarchy.

King Farouk and King Fouad
The granite bust of King Fouad I and an oil painting of his son King Farouk, the last king of Egypt as part of "Features of era" exhibition hosted at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)

Members of the Mohamed Ali family were among the visitors to the exhibition in Cairo, including Crown Prince Mohamed Ali, the son of former King Ahmed Fouad II and grandson of King Farouk, as well his wife Princess Nawal, who came from abroad to see it.

King Farouk
A painting of King Farouk on the board of Egypt's Royal Ship "Al-Mahrousa" at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

Queen Nariman
A portrait of Egypt and Sudan's last reigned queen Nariman at "Features of an era" exhibition in Aisha Fahmy's palace "Centre of arts", Cairo. Queen Nariman was the second and last wife of King Farouk (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

Former Prince Abbas Helmy, the son of Prince Mohamed Abdel Moneim and the grandson of Khedive Abbas Helmy II, visited the exhibition and expressed his happiness to the curators about how it shows the public paintings and artefacts that they have not seen before. 

Khedive Abbas Helmy II
A painting of Khedive Abbas Helmy II at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

Prince Mohamed Abdel Moneim
A painting of Prince Mohamed Abdel Moneim, son of Khedive Abbas Helmy II by Swiss painter Otto Pilny in 1904 at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo.
 

Melekper Toussoun, the granddaughter of Prince Omar Toussoun who was known for his huge contribution to charity, archaeology, culture and the independence movement came from Paris to see the exhibition.

Toussoun praised the exhibition and its organisers saying that she was happy to finally see recognition of the good things done by the Mohamed Ali dynasty in Egypt.

Prince Omar Tousson
A painting of Prince Omar Tousson at "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo:Zeinab El-Gundy)
(Photo: Prince Omar Toussoun)

The exhibition also includes valuable household items that were once owned by members of the royal family, like a silver tea set that was used in the inauguration of Suez Canal in 1869.

King Farouk
An undated and unfinished oil painting for King Farouk of Egypt and Sudan along with one of the tea silverware set used in the inauguration of Suez canal in 1869 in "Features of an era" exhibition at Aisha Fahmy's "Centre of art" Palace in Cairo. (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)

Mohamed Ali Royal Family
Some pieces of furniture like chairs, tables and chests previously owned by members of Mohamed Ali Royal Family as well feminist icons like feminist leading figure Huda Sharawwy are part of the "Features of an era" exhibit at Aisha Fahmy's Palace "Centre of arts" in Cairo. (Photo:Zeinab El-Gundy)
 

Programme:

The exhibition opened on 27 January and will continue until 27 April.

Opening hours are 9am to 9pm.

Entrance is free.

1 Aziz Abaza St, Zamalek, Cairo.

 

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