The fellaha (peasant woman) is a recurrent theme in Mokhtar's work. His most famous sculpture, Nahdat Misr (Egypt Awakening) a monumental group in pink granite, which originally stood in Midan Bab Al Hadid, but now opposite the University Bridge, represents a sphinx rising and a peasant woman unveiling. It was the first monumental granite sculpture to be created since antiquity, and exceptional in that it expresses not the likeness of a ruler, but an abstract ideal.Egypt Awakening, shows a woman removing her veil,standing next to a sphinx. It evokes both continuity and transformation within Egyptian sociey. The elements in the present piece are clearly related and highly symbolic. The graceful woman symbolises Art, the veil relates to female emancipation, and the fellaha represents Egypt herself and Egyptian nationalism.
The influence of pharaonic art permeates Mokhtar's mature work. Using the language of ancient sculpture, in particular the massing of forms, elegant abstraction and idealization, which in some ways draws it close to the contemporary trends of Art Deco. In representing contemporary subjects and bestowing upon them the nobility of the antique, Mokhtars sculpture symbolically unites the distant past with a longed-for progressive future.
The present piece is an unsually large cast bronze figure by Mahmoud Mokhtar. A similar, though considerably smaller work was sold in Sotheby's London in 23 October 2007, lot 569.