Tahia Halim (Egyptian, 1919-2003)
The lot was imported into the UAE for sale and is … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF THE LATE MR AND MRS CRONEBERG, SWEDEN
Tahia Halim (Egyptian, 1919-2003)

Untitled (Peasant Scene)

Details
Tahia Halim (Egyptian, 1919-2003)
Untitled (Peasant Scene)
signed and dated ‘T.Halim 1966’ (lower left)
oil on thick cardboard
20 1/8 x 14 3/8 in. (51.3 x 36.5 cm.)
Painted in 1966
Provenance

Gifted by the artist to the late Mr and Mrs Croneberg, Sweden in 1966, thence by descent to the present owner.
Special notice

The lot was imported into the UAE for sale and is held in a Designated Zone. VAT at 5% will be added to the buyer’s premium and will be shown separately on our invoice. If the lot is released into GCC/UAE free circulation, import duty at 5% and import VAT at 5% will be payable on the hammer price by you at the Designated Zone before collection of the lot.

Brought to you by

Michael Jeha
Michael Jeha

Lot Essay

Christie’s is pleased to offer two beautiful works by Egyptian Tahia Halim from the collection of the late Mr and Mrs Croneberg, showcasing Halim’s most sought-after Nubian period. Both works depict the everyday life of the Nubian people alongside the Nile with rich Egyptian fresco-like compositions painted in evocative and earthy colours. It was during Tahia Halim’s solo exhibition in Stockholm 1966 at the ‘Modern Konst I Hemmiljjo’ (Modern Art in Home Environment), a highly regarded modern Swedish art gallery, that the Cronebergs were introduced to the artist and later that year, invited Halim to their beautiful family estate home outside of Stockholm in Gardesta. Both works solidify her presence as an important female modern Arab artist within the local Egyptian and international scene.

Following Halim’s journey to Nubia in 1962, the artist focused on depicting the Nubian people and Ancient Egyptian cultural heritage, forging her signature style and producing her most sought-after works. Most favorable is her ship motifs, which is readily found in her Boat Trip work for its highly symbolic depiction of the Nubian people following the Aswan Dam. Rare comparable examples of her boat motif are found in museums and major corporate collections, such as Marriage Gifts in Nubia (Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, Cairo) and The Nile Thanksgiving Day (Al Ahram Corporate Collection, Cairo).

Boat Trip was painted one year after the appointment of Gamal Abdel Nasser's second presidency and at the time of the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The rows of figures, geometrical balance, and the subtle symmetry of her composition of the painting tempered by earthy colours, reveal Halim's homage to her country's rich cultural heritage. It is probable that there is a socio-political dimension to this striking composition by the artist. Alongside fellow artists Hussein Bicar, the Wanly brothers and Adam Henein, Halim had been invited to spend time in Nubia by the Minister of Culture, Tharwat Okasha, before the Aswan High Dam project was to flood Nubian lands and displace the people. The construction of the High Dam on the Nile River in Aswan, identified as one of Nasser's main achievements, was a pivotal innovation for the industrialisation and modernisation of Egypt's economy and agriculture, as well as being a solution to control floods in that region. At the same time, there were consequences to this construction, including an exodus of more than 100,000 people who were forced to relocate and the flooding of numerous villages, as well as Nubian archeological sites being submerged by water.

Tahia focused on the positive impact of the new dam, having interacted with the Nubian people prior to their migration during her trip. Her ingenuous composition and exquisitely rich palette of colours, heightened by gold leaf are predominated by Halim's use of her signature earthy ochre tone. She appears to pay tribute to the people by depicting a composition that is reminiscent of Ancient Egyptian frescoes, through its size, style and technique.

In Untitled (Peasant Scene), she further celebrates the Nubian people's status of peasants through her touches of gold paint, a colour usually reserved for royals in Ancient Egyptian wall-painting. Halim subverts its traditional connotation by employing it for her depiction of an Egyptian rural scene, along with depicting these two women in full profile and in subtle symmetry of each other.
Both works exemplify her strong belief and inspiration in tradition, nature and history and at the same time, she expresses her deep love and affection for her native homeland, of Nubia's Jubilation over President Gamal Abdel Nasser, while evoking the artist's own jubilation of peasant life, tradition, history, Ancient Egyptian art and of her beloved country.
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