This is a rare self portrait by Mahmoud Said, widely considered as among the finest of all artists to have come from the Middle East. In it we can see much of his characteristic intensity.
Born to an aristocratic Alexandrian family which lived in Anfoushi district in Alexandria, near Al-Moursi Abu'l-Abbas Mosque, his father, Mohammed Said Pasha, Egypt's Prime Minister and uncle of Queen Farida, was a keen supporter of culture and arts. Studying first in law, and rising to high office, Mahmoud Said later dedicated himseld soley to his painting.
Mahmoud Said's great innovation was the adaptation of the Western painting techniques to express an individual and national character. This is a dominant characteristic in his work from the late 1920s onwards. During these years the National Egyptian Movement flourished as did the formation of an 'Egyptian' character for Egyptian art.