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Brief history of art in Lebanon - The Renaissance
Brief history of art in Lebanon - The Renaissance
Editorial Team

The artists of the second generation went to Rome, Paris, London and Brussels to educate themselves around the big masters. Therefore, Dawud al Qurm (1858-1930) who as early as the age of ten used to draw birds on the rocks of Ghazir, left in 1870 to Rome: he was then twelve years old. His stubbornness was such that he was able to force the door of Roberto Bompiani (1821-1908) the official painter of the King of Italy. The incident is worth to be told. Dawud had the intention to show his pieces to the big master. He tried several times to get a meeting but to no avail because the servants were preventing him from entering to the residence. One day, they threw his paintings on the ground. Al Qurm started to scream, the master goes out, sees all this beautiful mess and these paintings scattered on the ground. Their polished style seduces him. He picks them up himself and welcomes the Lebanese young artist. He took him inside his residence and decided to adopt him as a disciple to the exclusion of any other person.

Let us name as well among the precursors, Habib Surur (1860-1938), Khalil al – Salibi (1870-1928), and the father Nimatallah al-Maadi (1881-1954) who was trained in Belgium. The big merit of these artists was to have introduced the basic principles of the artistic technique to Lebanon, and to have stressed the importance of shadow and light in the elaboration process and to have caught the quintessence of the esthetic work. Thanks to them, the shape, which had remained till then inert and fixed, became alive, expressive, and evocative.

If Khalil al-Salibi did leave the classicism to let himself be taken by the impressionism to the point of neglecting sometimes the drawing to the benefit of grace and freshness, al-Qurm, Surur and Al-Maadi did dedicate their talent to execute religious paintings, portraits and sometimes dead natures (fruits, birds, fish). Among the representatives of these generations let us name as well Philippe Murani (1875-1970) who stayed in Paris and whose, although of classic facture did shine an oriental imagination and sensibility. Chukri al-Mussawwir (1865-1935) immigrated to America and distinguished himself as well by the typical oriental style of his art.

The leaders of the second generation are Yusuf al-Huwayyik (1883-1962), big initiator of the contemporary sculpture in Lebanon, Jubran Khalil Jubran(1883-1931), Yusuf Ghusub (1898-1967) and Georges al-Qurm (1896-1971), son of Dawud. Al Huwayyik, who was trained in Rome and Paris, tried to achieve in him the symbiosis of two completely heterogeneous styles, the light and graceful style of the Italian Renaissance and the tormented style of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). The painting of Jubran is in tight relation with the painting of Leonard de Vinci (1452-1519) and intimately surveyed the painting of the English William Blake (1757-1827), the mystic painter of the XIX century. His vigorous originality allowed him though to remain independent from each one of them.

The sculptor Yusuf Ghusub (1898-1967) belongs to this generation too. He received his basic training from the Egyptian Mahmud Mukhar (1891-1934) before refining his apprenticeship in Paris and Rome (1927-1935). His style is well in the line of the traditional academism. He left more than one hundred sculptures and statues in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. One needs finally to put in this group as well Georges al-Qurm who practiced not only the classic drawing but wrote as well studies on art and artists.

The third part in our four part series will tackle he Modernism, and the fourth part the Transformation. Back to the first part tackle the The Awakening

MOOVTOO Exclusive: This article was originally written by Abdallah Naaman in French and has been translated into English

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