Christie's is proud to present this charming painting, newly discovered in Sweden, after being preserved in private hands unrevealed to the public for more than forty years.
Tahia Halim was born in Cairo in 1919. Thanks to her father who was a laureate of King Fouad, Tahia received her primary education in the Royal Palace and later studied painting under Youssef Traboulsi and Hamed Abdallah, who later became her husband. Tahia Halim proceeded with her artistic education in Paris and upon her return to Egypt in 1951 she was recognized both locally and internationally.
Painted in 1958, the same year Tahia was awarded the Guggenheim price, the present work entitled The Dervishes is defined by artistic maturity and reveals Tahia's artistic independence through the development of her signature style
and technique. Although she studied in the prestigious Académie Julian in Paris, Tahia Halim was never inclined to reflect the style of noble European in her works. Moving away from the European influences, her style is immersed in the Egyptian identity and folk culture and influenced by events such as the Suez crisis in 1956.
Following these events, Tahia focused on the portrayal of her homeland along with a sense of suffering and distress. The present work is a seminal example from her artistic exploration, that captures the essence of her national pride while it reveals the influences of her cultural heritage. Hinting at the historical events that happened that same year, namely the establishment of the United Arab Republic, Tahia uses her dervishes to instigate a sense of peace. As she depicts a modest couple embracing, Tahia indeed alludes to the Egyptian pride and unity within the febrile socio-political context and also draws on her personal experience, as she chose her passion for art over opulence and comfort.