• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7674

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 October 2008, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 112

    Chant Avedissian (Egypt, b.1951)

    Icons of the Nile

    Price Realised  


    Chant Avedissian (Egypt, b.1951)
    Icons of the Nile
    signed 'CHANT AVEDISSIAN LE CAIRE' (lower right)
    gouache, silver, gold and coloured painted glitter on corrugated paper
    156 7/8 x 78in. (398.5 x 199cm.)
    Painted in 1993

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    The figures in this composition are the following:
    1. Umm Kulthoum (Egyptian ,1904-1975) known as "the Shining Star of the East" (kawkab el-sharq). she is still recognized as the Arab world's most famous and distinguished singer of the 20th century. Please see the note for Lot 113 for a fuller biography.
    2. Asmahan (Syrian, 1918-1944 ) was born Princess Amal member of the famous Druze family Al-Atrash was a famous Syrian singer and actor who lived in Egypt and sang most of her songs in Egyptian Arabic. She was the sister of Farid Al-Atrash, a famous singer in his own right. Asmahan started her career in Lebanon, then traveled to Cairo, Egypt, where she worked with many famous composers such as Riyadh El-Sonbati and Muhammad Al-Qassabji. Controversy surrounds the circumstances of her death, adding to the myth of Asmahan . Asmahan, always afraid of water, when young was told by a gypsy that as she was born in water she would die in water.
    3. Laila Mourad (Egyptian 1917-1995) Born to a Jewish Egyptian family, it was Jewish composer Dawoud Housni (who had composed the first Operetta in the Arabic language) who helped her start her career by composing two songs, Hairana Leh Bein El Eloub (Why can't you choose from among lovers), and Hoa el dala'a ya'ani khessam (Does daliance mean avoiding me?). Further success came when the prominent Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab heard her singing and gave her a role in his film Yahia el Hob (Viva Love!) in 1938. She converted to Islam in the 1940s, hoping to protect her career in show business. She was selected in 1953, over Umm Kolthoum, as the official singer of the Egyptian Revolution. However, within two months Nasser's coming to power in 1954, Leila Mourad, by now at the pinnacle of her career, publicly and abruptly declared that she is ending her acting and singing altogether.
    4. Layla Fawzi ( Egyptian 1925-2005 ). Born to an Egyptian father, and a Turkish mother, Layla Fawzi was one of the most beautiful actresses in the history of the Arabic cinema. In the 1940s she was voted the most beautiful actresses of all time by an Amercan magazine. She worked for over 60 years and apperared in a huge number of films and plays. Best known for playing the role of of princesses , and aristocratic ladies, she was married three time.
    5. Zaki Rustom ( Egyptian 1903-1972 ). The iconic actor starred in more than 30 films.
    6. Samia Gamal (Egyptian, b. 1924) Gamal met Badia Masabni, who later took her under her wings, and accepted her into her dance troupe. Samia made belly dancing more expressive, and as such it increased in respectability. She created a style where she mixes the oriental moves, with the western approach to dancing.
    7. Zuzu Madi (Egyptian 1914-1982). Madi was born to an aristocratic family of Lebanese origins, attended private French schools and spoke three languages fluently. Married at a young age to a cousin she hated, she tried many times to commit suicide. At fifteen she was already a mother with two children. Her life changed when she read a newspaper article requesting young ladies to send their photographss. She sent her photograph was contacted by the film director Mohammed Abdul Karim. She moved to Cairo, and in 1938 appeared in her first movie, later to become a famous actress.
    8. Faten Hamama ( Egyptian, b.1931) Egyptian producer, and acclaimed actress, Hamama made her screen debut in 1939, when only nine years old. Revered as an icon in Egyptian and Middle Eastern cinema, Hamama has substantially helped in improving the cinema industry in Egypt and emphasizing the importance of women in cinema and Egyptian society .
    9. Berlanti (Egyptian, b.1935). Berlanti Abdul Hamid was an artist, drama, and cinema star. She joined The Modern Egyptian Theatre"troupe with her collauges Omar El-Harery, Shokry Sarhan, Sanaa Gameel, Tawfeek Aldeken, and Abd El-Ghany Kamar. The troupe introduced many plays like "The Grass ", and "A Tale of Two Cities". In cinema, her films include Raya and Skena, Idiots' Street in 1955. She was a model of the backstreet's girl with the veil, head scarf, playful eyes, and red cheeks.
    10. Hind Rustom (Egyptian, b. 1931) Also named "the Marilyn Monroe of the East" and "the Rita Hayworth of the East". With dazzling looks, a seductive personality, and a natural fondness towards the camera, Rustom landed her first role in a film titled Azhaar wa Ashwak which brought her to the attention of Egyptian cinema by her casting in the role of irresistibly sexy woman. This role lent her a reputation as "the Queen of Seduction". Hin Rostom won several awards for her exceptional acting talent, She was honoured by several institutions including the Cairo International Film Festival in 1993. Although she retired from acting in the 1970s, she is still very popular amongst the Egyptian public.
    11. Koka ( Egyptian , 1917) Koka was born Najia Ibrahim Bilal Films often had types. A subcategory of the virtuous girl was the Arab Bedouin girl. Acrtreses who played this role included Aziza Arnir and Bahiga Hafiz, and later Koka. This type was typically outspoken, courageous, generous and righteous. This character can be summarized as a loyal and kind-hearted but clever woman from the popular neighbourhoods, who supports herself independently but resepects traditional morals.
    12-Youssef Wahbi (Egyptian, 1900-1982) was an Egyptian actor and film director, a leading star of the 1930s and 1940s and a prominent stage actor for four decades. He was born to a high state official in Egypt but renounced his family's wealth and traveled to Rome in the 1920s to study theatre. Besides his stage work, he acted in about 50 films.
    13. Magida (Egyptian). Magida's career began in 1949 when, at 15, she played the lead part opposite Ismail Yassine in "The Brainy". This was followed by dozens of ground-breaking films promoting women's causes. She was appointed member of the Committee on Cinema in the Specialized National Councils and also represented Egypt in international film festivals hosted by countries around the world. She also received prizes from the international Damascus, Moscow, Berlin and Venice film festivals and was awarded a prize from the Ministry of Culture and Guidance in Egypt.
    14. Shadia (Egyptian 1928) is an Egyptian actress and singer. She is famous for her roles in light comedies and drama in the 1950s and 1960s.With her feminity, she had a strong presence on stage. Her play Rayya an dsakina, was played for over three years in Egypt and abroad, and is still widely repeated on all Arab televisions. She appeared in more than 30 movies.
    15. Rakia Ibrahim. Born to a Jewish Egyptian family, Ibrahim started as a fashion designer to the actresses in the 1950s. Her first appearance was with the director (Tuju Mizrahi) in (Layla the daughter of the desert ). She had many prominent roles until the Egyptian Revolution took place, where she showed her support to the independence of a free Egypt, but in 1954 she emigrated to the United States and in later used the name Rachel Abraham Levy.
    16. Sharifa Maher ( Egyptian ) Artist, and singer, very popular in the 1960s for her beautiful voice, mainly sang in wedding, and was famous for her zaffa (wedding songs) .
    17. Lola Sudki ( Egyptian 1925) Daughter of the theatre writer Amin Sudki , studied in French school , and worked in the theatre from an early age. She appeared in more than 40 movies in the 1950s and 60s. Moved to Italy in the 1960s and had a role in the American movie , (Eagles of rescue)
    18. Naguib El-Rihani (1890 -1949). The great theatre and cinema actor Naguib El-Rihani was known as KeshKesh Beik, the name of the character he created from his own imagination and brought it to be live and real. Known as "Charlie Chaplin of the East", El-Rihani chose to deal with the psychological insight of the working classes against the unjust aristocratic rule, making fun of aristocracy in a sarcastic way. El-Rihani played a great role in the development of Egyptian theatre at a time when theatres were presenting comic sketches that were very silly using meaningless words and actors as dummies doing ridiculous movements just to arouse the laughter of the audience but El-Rihani had very different ethical and valuable visions
    19. Tahia Karioka (Egyptian, 1915-1999). A very talented artist, in dancing, acting, and singing, Tahia Karioka worked in cinema, radio, TV and theatre. Her father and mother were not Egyptians. Her father walked out on the family, and she escaped to Cairo, penniless. After arriving in Cairo she sought out the famous songbird Suad Mohsen whom she worked with in "Bejo Palace" then she got to know Beshara Wakim who introduced her to Badia Masabni, then known as the queen of Cairo theatre.
    4. Sabah (Lebanese, b. 1927) Also known to fans by her diminutive name Sabbouha and is also called Al Shahroura (or "the singing bird"), she is a Lebanese singer and actress whose career has stretched from the year 1943 to the present. She began singing in the 1940s, and started acting in Egyptian movies while continuing to sing. She has released over 50 albums and has acted in 98 movies, as well as almost 20 stage plays. Sabah has been married seven times. She is among the most prolific Arabic-language singers, with a reported 3,500 songs.Still a prominent performer at 80 years of age, she continues to perform both in concert and on television
    21 & 22 are unnamed.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, 1994