(8 April1897 - 8 April1964)

Mahmoud Saïd is rightly considered as the founder of Modern Egyptian Painting. Born into the aristocratic circle of Alexandria, he was the son of former Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd Pacha (1863-1928), and the uncle of Queen Farida of Egypt (1921-1988).

He started painting in his teens, yet his social background pressurized him to become a judge. Painting remained a hobby until he permanently resigned from his legal functions aged 50.

Yet Saïd succeeded in forging his own unique style, deeply rooted in the true Egyptian character and daily life he observed around him, fused with his Western artistic training.

mahmoud said painting
Mahmoud Saïd in his studio in his family home in Ginaklis
(current Mahmoud Saïd Museum, Alexandria), painting Bain des chevaux a Rosette in 1950.

© Henri El Kayem & Courtesy Henri El Khayem archives

Saïd's intrinsically Egyptian style emerged in conjunction with the rise of nationalism in Egypt, a country which had been under an accumulation of 2,400 years of foreign domination from the Persians until its declaration of independence from the British protectorate in 1922.

Hence Saïd's oeuvre undeniably paved the way for the search of a national identity through art, giving birth to Modern Egyptian Art.

To some extent, this dynamic artistic scene in Egypt combined with its political situation sparked similar nationalistic expressions through art in surrounding Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.


1897 Born in Alexandria on 8th April

1904-1908 Primary School Education at Victoria College, Alexandria

1908 Prince Youssef Kamel founds the first Egyptian School of Fine Arts in Cairo

1910 Mohamed Saïd Pacha (Mahmoud Saïd’s father) appointed Egypt’s Prime Minister

1910-1914 Home schooling with local and international teachers.
Travels to Nubia, Luxor, Thebes, Denderah, Kom Ombo, Edfou & Aswan

1911 Exhibition of the first graduates of the Egyptian School of Fine Arts in Cairo.

1913-1915 Private art classes with Italian academic painter Amelia Casonato Daforno

1914 El-Saidiya Secondary School, Cairo: was taught drawing by Tawfik Effendi

1915 El-Abassiya Secondary School, Alexandria: baccalaureate.

1916-1918 Frequented the atelier of Italian artist Arturo Zanieri with cousin and art critic/poet Ahmed Rassem and fellow Italian painter Giuseppe Sebasti

1918 Exhibits for the first time at the Salon de la Municipalité of Alexandria. Bachelor of arts in French law in Cairo

1918-1919 Travels to Louxor & Karnak

1920 Appointed assistant to the Public Prosecutor

1920 Classes at the Académie Julian in the "free" section(Paris, 8-23 July).
Founding of the Société des Amis de l'Art, Cairo

1921-1922 Frequent visits to art museums in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Italy

1922 Married Samiha Hanem Riad. Honeymoon in Venice.
Appointed Deputy District Prosecutor at the Mansourah Mixed Courts

1922 Promoted to deputy district prosecutor (Royal Decree n° 1 dated 18 July 1922 published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 24 July 1922, n° 68)

1923 Received honorary title of "Bey" (8 October)

1924 Appointed as deputy district prosecutor at the Indegenous Tribunals (Royal Decree n° 2 dated 17 December 1924 published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 22 December 1924, n° 113)

1924 Painted his self-portrait L’apôtre (the Apostle) after recovering from typhoid

1925 Exhibition in Cairo (Roger Bréval's studio) with Mohamed Naghi, Roger Bréval & Charles Boeglin

1927 Founding of La Chimère with Roger Breval, Pierre Beppi-Martin, Mahmoud Mokhtar, Ragheb Ayad and Mohamed Naghi (Cairo)

1927 Promoted from president at the Mixed Courts of Alexandria to prosecutor at the Mixed Courts of Grande Instance of Mansourah (Royal Decree n° 1 dated 30 December 1927, published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 5 January 1928, n° 2)

1929 Transferred to prosecutor at the Mixed Courts of Grande Instance of Alexandria (Royal Decree n° 3 dated 28 May 1929, published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 10 June 1929, n° 52)

1929 Egyptian government purchases its first work by Mahmoud Saïd, L’Apôtre

1935 Founding of ‘l’Atelier d’Alexandrie’ by Mohammed Nagh and Giuseppe Sebasti

1936 Exhibition at Rockefeller Centre, New York. Special issue of 'la Semaine Egyptienne' dedicated to Mahmoud Saïd (January)

1937 Exhibition at the Studio Guild, 5th Avenue, New York &
Exposition internationale des arts et techniques dans la vie moderne in Paris at the Egyption Pavillion: awarded with a medal of honor
(La Ville, Nadia au canari and Baigneuses à Mansourah)

1937 Appointed deputy district prosecutor of the Courts until 14 October 1938 (Royal Decree n° 1 dated 30 November 1937 published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 2 Decembre 1937, n° 113).




1938 Participates in the XXI Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte di Venezia (Egyptian Pavillion)

1939 Appointed advisor to the Mixed Tribunals (Royal Decree n° 2 dated 25 April 1939 published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 27 April 1939, n° 42)

1940 Exhibits at Nile Hall, Cairo

1942-1948 Several successive exhibitions at the Cairo and Alexandria salons

1946-1947 His second mural-size painting and his only work depicting a histocial subject L'inauguration de l'ouverture du canal de Suez


1947 Travels to Marsa Matrouh and resigns from the judiciary system

1948 Participates in the XXIV Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte di Venezia. Participates to an exhibition of Arab Art, Palais de l'UNESCO, Beirut

1949 Travels to Aswan.
Exhibits at the British Institute, Cairo with 5 other Egyptian artists.
Travels to Naples, Rome, Belgium and France.
Exhibits at the Pavillon Marsan,
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.
Solo exhibition at the Amitiés Françaises of Alexandria

1950 Travels to Marsa Matrouh.
Participates in XXV Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte di Venezia

1951 As former advisor to the Mixed Courts, awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government (Royal Decree n° 1 dated 2 August 1951 published in Al-Waqa’i’a al-Masriya, 2 August 1951, n° 67)

1951 Wedding of his daughter Nadia to Professor Hassan EL Khadem in Alexandria.
Travels to Lebanon and Syria.
Retrospective exhibition at the Guezireh Palace, Cairo.
First monograph published on Mahmoud Saïd by Henri El Khayem (Editions Braun, Mulhouse)

1952 Participates in the XXVI Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte di Venezia. Travels to the UK, Belgium, France, Greece and Italy

1953-1955 Travels to Lebanon

1960 Exhibition in Montevideo (Uruguay).
Retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Alexandria.
First Egyptian artist to obtain the State Appreciation Award in Arts from President Nasser

1961 Commissionned by the Alexandria Port's Authority to paint La Pêche à Marsa Matrouh

1963 Travels to the Greek islands

1964 Retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Alexandria.
Dies on April 8th : grandiose funerals, headed by the students of the Faculty of Fine Arts

1969 His residential house in Ginaklis, Alexandria is sold to the Ministry of Culture; it is today the Mahmoud Said Museum

1970 Mahmoud Saïd's remaining art collection is given to the Ministry of Culture of Egypt in view of opening a museum dedicated to Mahmoud Saïd

1973 Opening of the Mahmoud Saïd Museum

1991 Last known exhibition: Mahmoud Saïd Museum, Alexandria



contemporary practices