Ranging from declarations of love and outpourings of grief to observations on sales, or the lack of them, our collection of letters from and to artists offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into the private world of a creative force

While artists will always express themselves first and foremost through their work, what they say to loved ones and colleagues in writing can be equally revealing, as our collection of letters on the following pages shows. The compilation is both varied and inspirational, comprising a mix of correspondence provided by the historian and curator, Sam Bardaouil, whose book and show on the Surrealism movement in Egypt are featured later on in this edition, and extensive research undertaken by the Selections team.

Some of the correspondence is factual, giving us a wonderful insight into the challenges that artists faced when attempting to promote or sell their work, while other notes are brimming with emotion.

To: Mr Paul Vanderborght
From: Mahmoud Saiid

17 February, 1936 San Stefano

Dear Sir

It was with great pleasure that I received your letter a few days ago.

I apologise for my late reply, which is because I didn’t have any reproductions available, since most of them are in Cairo at Storino’s, who wants to prepare a special issue about my work during the Egyptian Week. I’ll make sure to send you a copy once it’s ready.

I am sending you with this letter some joint reproductions that Abban just finished, in addition to the two issues of the Bourse Egyptienne, which mention your interesting conference on modern art in Egypt.

I heard indirectly from my sister, Mme Hussein Sirry Beq, that you were kind enough to mention me during your conference, since a friend of hers, who was among the audience, wrote to her from Brussels, saying she wished she was my sister, so proud was she of everything that you had the kindness to say about my paintings. Please be sure, sir, that I am very touched and grateful.

While offering my appreciation once again, I ask you to please send my regards to Madame
Vanderborght and allow me to pay my humble respects.


Provided by Sam Bardaouil

Courtesy of Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, copyright: the Imad Badr El-Din Abou Ghazi Archive, Cairo



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