This is a portrait of one of Egypt's foremost 20th century artists, Tahia Halim, by Hamed Nada, a contemporary and an Egyptian artist of equal renown. Tahia Halim is often considered the most important of Egyptian female artists. Hamed Nada was one of the leading Surrealist painters. Works as early as this by Hamed Nada are extremely rare, and there are no existing comparables. Known for her kind temperament, the character of the young Tahia comes across beautifully in this work. Painted in 1954, the quality of this work was recognized early, and was exhibited in the First Alexandria Biennale in 1955.
Tahia Halim was born in Cairo in 1919. Her primary education took place within the Royal Palace where she was raised, as her father was the laureate of King Fouad. In high school she took two years off to learn French, piano and painting under the painter Youssef Traboulsi, the Greek artist Gerom, then under artist Hamed Abdullah at his studio in 1943. They married in 1945 and left for Paris for Tahia to join Julian Academy (1949-1951). She returned to Egypt in 1951 and started exhibiting in solo shows, group exhibitions and international exhibitions such as the Biennial of Alexandria, Italy, Brazil, Sweden, England, France, Poland and finally in the USA in 1982. Her artwork can be divided in three periods; from 1941 to 1951 was first a period of composition, from 1952 to 1962 she developed a more confident and original art which was named Folkloric impressionism and her third period was focused on Nubia, clearly demonstrating the influence of old Egyptian art. In 1984, she started teaching painting in her Atelier in Cairo. Tahia Halim was awarded the Guggenheim prize in 1958 and the Government encouraging prize in 1968. Her paintings are in the Guggenheim in New York, the Modern Art Museum of Egyptian Art in Cairo, and in Stockholm.