Monday، 20 July 2009 - 12:00 AM
He is considered the Pioneer of Modern Sculpture in Egypt (1891 - 1934).
Mahmoud Mukhtar was born on May 10, 1891 in a village called Tonbara, in the Gharbiya Governorate, central Delta. He completed his primary education in Egyptian schools. His father, Sheikh Ibrahim Al Issawi, was the mayor of his home village.
Then his family moved to another village near Al Mansoura. There he lived as a peasant boy, nurturing dreams of childhood, playing on the banks of the village irrigation canal and making mud statues.
In 1902, he moved to Cairo, where he lived in Darb El Gamameez traditional district, which combined traders, artisans of traditional handicrafts, as well as masterpieces of Cairo’s Islamic architectural monuments and arts. Living in this area, Mukhtar learned much more than he did from school education. This atmosphere was vividly reflected in his works.
In 1908, the private University and School of Fine Arts were established, thanks to the encouragement of Prince Youssof Kamal. Mukhtar joined this school, where his talent was cultivated.
Upon the recommendation of his French professor La Plani, Mukhtar was sent to Paris to further his study. There, his attention was drawn to the rich heritage of the ancient Pharaonic civilization.
Due to the outbreak of World War I, he underwent difficult circumstances. During this period, he was engaged as a technical manager at Griffan Museum.
Mukhtar’s works were highly appreciated by contemporary critics, such as Ole Bjrorson, Louis Fauxel, Jacques Bastain and George Grap, the then manager of Rondan Museum. Most famous among Mukhtar’s works are two statues of nationalist leader "Sa’ad Zaghloul", of which one is erected in Cairo and the other in Alexandria.
On the tenth anniversary of the 1952 Revolution, Dr. Tharwat Okasha, the then Minister of Culture and National Guidance inaugurated Mukhtar Museum, saying "The significance of Mukhtar basically lies in his being the first sculptor in the modern time to express, once more, in his works the personality of the country".
The early beginning of the Mukhtar Museum was a pavilion in the Modern Art Museum in Al-Tahrir Square, Cairo. Later a separate museum was built in Al Gazeera area, where his remains were relocated and reburied.
One of his supporters was Mrs Hoda Sha’rawi, a pioneer of the Egyptian Feminist Movement. He once told her that to him, she represented Isis, the famous heroine who, according to Ancient Egyptian mythology, successfully, managed to collect the mutilated parts of her dead husband’s body. As if in fulfillment of his prophetic statement, it was Sha’rawi that sought to collect his dispersed works in both Egypt and France. She was also the honorary chairwoman for the Mukhtar Friends’ Society. She offered her house for the Society. She also constantly adopted a call to build a museum for Mukhtar’s works, which was realized only after her death.
On May 10, 1934, Mukhtar, the magician of granite, basalt, marble and stone passed away leaving behind a memorable legacy of great art.