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Mahmoud Saïd (Egyptian, 1897-1964)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, USA
Mahmoud Saïd (Egyptian, 1897-1964)

Après la pluie, au Liban

Mahmoud Saïd (Egyptian, 1897-1964)
Après la pluie, au Liban
signed and dated indistinctly 'M. Saïd 1954' (lower right)
oil on panel
25 3/8 x 31 5/8in. (64.5 x 70.3cm.)
Painted in 1954
Dr. Tharawat Okasha Collection, Cairo (by whom acquired directly from the artist).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
E. Dawastashy, Mahmoud Saïd (in Arabic), Cairo 1997, no. 264 (listed, but incorrectly illustrated).
M. El Razzaz, Mahmoud Said (in Arabic), Cairo 1997 (illustrated in colour inverted, titled "View of Lebanon", p. 232).
Alexandria, Musée des Beaux-Arts & Centre Culturel, A l'occasion du Huitième Anniversaire de la Révolution: Exposition rétrospective des oeuvres du peintre lauréat MAHMOUD SAÏD, 1960, no. 70 (incorrectly dated 1956, listed, but not illustrated, unpaged).
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Post Lot Text
This work will be included in the forthcoming Mahmoud Saïd Catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Dr. Hussam Rashwan and Valérie Hess.

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Lot Essay

'I start with colour because I cannot see lines; I see colour only. I found this is true in Cézanne and I am convinced with it. Nature does not have lines but moving dimensions and their relationship with other dimensions close by is what forms lines. A line is in fact abstract, and this is why abstract art clearly uses lines'.
(Mahmoud Saïd, in an interview with Dr Mostafa Suef "Psychological Studies", in E. Dawstashy, Mahmoud Saïd, Cairo 1997).

A true master of landscape painting, Mahmoud Saïd not only depicted scenes from his beloved Egypt, from Alexandria to the banks of the Nile in Luxor, Aswan and Mansourah, but also painted landscape views of places he visited on holiday. One of his favourite escapes from the suffocating Egyptian summer heat was Lebanon, especially in the 1950s. The first three Lebanese landscapes painted by the Egyptian master date back to 1951 and represent houses in the village of Aïtanit, in the West Bekaa region, where Saïd appears to have visited his close friend Dr. Joseph Elkayem. Between 1952 and 1959, he produced more than twenty additional paintings depicting Lebanon, all of different formats, compositions and infused with their own unique light each time. Après la pluie, au Liban is one of the highlights of Saïd's Lebanese production, in terms of its unconventional composition, its carefully chosen palette and the dramatic light emanating from the sunlit scene following a rain-shower, as hinted in the title.

The present work exemplifies Mahmoud Saïd's colouristic skills and how he perceived nature as a juxtaposition of colours rather than abstract lines. This notion is particularly poignant in Après la pluie, au Liban when one examines the small preparatory work with the same title that he produced for this composition, Après la pluie, au Liban (esquisse), also of 1954, which is now part of the Mahmoud Saïd Museum's collection in Alexandria. The Egyptian master did not always produce preparatory oil sketches for his paintings, yet appears to have done so for most of his large and complex compositions, such as La Ville of 1937 or L'Inauguration du Canal de Suez. The museum's oil sketch for Après la pluie, au Liban shows Saïd's concern with colour as all the shapes and outlines of the scene's elements are rendered purely by touches of colour and their relationships between them. It is possible that in this instance, Saïd executed a quick oil sketch of the view in order to grasp the light that was present at that precise moment when the sun came out after a storm, so that he could then reproduce it on a larger scale in the final composition. When comparing the small oil sketch and the final work, it seems that Saïd replicated the same highlights in both paintings, such as the sunlit cluster of houses in the top left corners, the top of the trees in the foregrounds and the side of the hills in the lower right quadrants. Nonetheless, in the larger painting, the artist also appears to have subdued the vibrant pigments he used in the oil sketch in order to create a more harmonious composition. He also added more orange and brown hues to the trees, so that they echo the fiery warm tones of the hills in the foreground and complement better the greens and blues of the background.

Après la pluie, au Liban is an excellent example of Saïd's ability to play with complimentary colours yet also incorporate his knowledge of aerial perspective, a technique often used by Italian Renaissance masters and by 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish painters revealing Saïd's deep admiration for these artists, particularly Cima da Conegliano (c.1459-1517). The invention of aerial perspective allowed those artists to achieve an effect of depth through the use of layers of colours, displayed in a specific order, from the most saturated tones in the foreground to the less intense hues in the background. In Après la pluie, au Liban, Saïd takes aerial perspective a step further in his distinct cut-out of the three traditionally used tones, a warm earthy orange colour in the foreground, followed by a luminous green pigment at the middle of the composition, finally leading on to the atmospheric grey, white and light blue tones in the background. These three colour planes, carefully superimposed on top of each other, yet again highlight the diagonal dynamism of the entire composition, particularly with his inclusion of a succession of hills, which in turn creates more depth. Furthermore, Saïd's palette, composition and the faceted rendering of the jagged mountain, reference the works of Paul Cézanne, often identified as the bridge between Impressionism and Cubism, and his famous views of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire in South of France. The almost abstract planes of oranges, browns, greens and greys also reveal Saïd's awareness of 20th century Western Modern art, yet the warm light bursting from both landscapes is undeniably the Alexandrian's signature. Imbued with several elements inspired from various styles throughout the history of art, Mahmoud Saïd's Après la pluie, au Liban epitomises how he masters them in a very innovative and unique way, always adding his own Egyptian personal touch to ensure his independence and detachment from his ancestors and fellow Western artists.

Mahmoud Saïd, Après la pluie, au Liban (esquisse), oil on board, 26 x 41cm., 1954.
Mahmoud Saïd Museum, Alexandria

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