Bibliographies

“THE MARINE SCHOOL IN LEBANON” EXCERPTS FROM THE INTRODUCTION “HOW IT ALL BEGAN”  (P.15 TO 20)  OF DR. MAHA AZIZEH SULTAN’S BOOK : “PIONEERS OF PLASTIC ART IN LEBANON – CORM, SROUR AND SALIBY 1870 – 1938”  KASLIK – LEBANON – 2006.

IN TRANSLATION  (You can already read it, in Arabic or French pages)

 

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE CONFERENCE OF THE PAINTER MOSTAFA FARROUKH AT ‘’CÉNACLE LIBANAIS’’ – SEPTEMBER 14, 1947

It can be said that the rise of the “Cultural and Artistic Renaissance” in Lebanon started in the 19th century. It advanced at a rapid pace, valued by selfless and true minds that believed in “culture for culture” and “art for art.” Every solid leap based on entrenched emotional forces diffused itself like a source of life and vitality.
I believe it is worthwhile to present this group of artists before talking about them and describing their style and purpose. Auguste Rodin, the master of modern art, describes true artists in the introduction of his book “The Art” saying: “Art is loyalty, passion for nature, attention and wisdom, will and work.” These are the basic elements of artistic professionalism, and this group’s members possessed them all.
We begin by acknowledging one of the founders of this renaissance, the ulama Abdallah Zakher (1684-1748). In addition to his erudition, he was an artist who left us several paintings including his self-portait. When I visited “Saint John” monastery of Greek Catholic monks near Choueir, I saw the printing house Zakher established with their help as well as the wooden characters and sculptures he built and used for printing the first book in Lebanon. Besides, Kanaan Dib from Dlebta was a self-educated artist who left us many paintings full of sensitivity and a magnificent sense of sufism. Likewise, we mention Najib Youssef Shoukry from Deir El Qamar (1897), Najib Fayad and Ibrahim Serbai from Beirut (1865), in addition to Dimashkieh, Said Merhi and Ali Jammal. Most of them devoted their art to painting ships, landscapes and the sea.
Serbai’s works remind us of the Venetian artist Canaletto who spent his life painting the canals and ships of Venice. However, his most renowned painting is that illustrating the reception of Emperor Wilhelm II at Beirut’s port. As for Dimashkieh’s most popular work, it is the one representing the famous marine accident, when Victoria battleship wrecked in the waters of Tripoli after the visit of the British fleet to our country. There is also Merhi who worked on portraits before he had to leave to America.

Finally, we refer to the officer Ali Jammal who was fond of painting the sea, its waves and boats. He eventually travelled to Constantinople and joined a military navy school by which he was promoted as officer. These painters mainly illustrated in their works the sea and the boats, explained by the mentality prevalent during their time period. One of the pioneers of this artistic renaissance is Salim Haddad from Abey who painted in Egypt and acquired a great reputation. For acknowledgement, there is also Najib Bekhazi who emigrated to Russia. Unfortunately, I can’t comment about their works because I did not get the chance to admire them.

Now we move to talk about another group of artists who were the first to travel to Europe and study painting under the patronage of great masters. The painter Raif Chaddoudi was preoccupied with portraits. He worked on two remarkable ones representing Mr. Massaad and his son. He died at a young age because of distressing problems, leaving in his legacy only a limited number of portraits.

Daoud Corm (1852-1930)
Daoud Corm was the first among us to initiate mature art. In 1865, he travelled to Italy, the cradle of the arts, where he visited many museums and renowned art academies, admiring at length the masterpieces of great masters such Michelangelo, Raphael and Veronese. In particular, Daoud Corm was influenced by the spirit of Raphael and his school, leaving us in his legacy an inspirational art full of passion, subtlety and emotions.

One of his contemporaries is Shoukry Moussawer whose few remaining paintings express a marked enhancement in the perception of color and the Lebanese ambience overflowing with light, breeze and perspective.

Habib Srour (1860-1938)
Habib Srour studied art in Rome in 1870. He sharpened his skills and surpassed his peers with his immense talent, attested to by great occidental artists who were studying with him. He painted for the Maronite School in Rome a portrait of Patriarch “Jean-Maroun,” also considered a masterpiece in the capital of arts. It is important to recount one of my visits to his studio. I found him as usual in the process of painting a tiny branch with dead leaves. Amazed, I asked him why, and he turned back at me with a smile as his eyeglasses trembled on the tip of his pointed nose. He replied: “(Ah) If I can, Mostafa, reproduce the beauty and precision of this dry branch. It made me feel perplexed and incompetent. Everything is perishable, and the value of life in its idealism and its morality – this idealism that artists and their peers experience and the pain that gnaws their mind – these are the most important elements in the life of intellectuals and in the value of their works.”
He finished his statement and turned back to his painting saying: “He who knew no pain doesn’t know God.”

Najib Kikano also lived during the same time period as Srour, but he did not work extensively in art because of his poor health.

Khalil Saliby (1870-1928)
Saliby paralleled his peers in ingenuity and skills, but he was more of a gifted poet and music composer in his subtle choice of colors which reflected fluency, homogeneity and liberalism. He was a man of rebel, wild and an avid in spirit, insurgent against his community and outspoken in his criticism. This frankness cost him his life when he was assassinated with his American wife in Beirut during the summer of 1928.

Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)
We mention him here because although he was renowned for his writings rather than his paintings, Gibran studied the art of drawing in his youth under the patronage of Srour who recounted that to me.
Later, Gibran emigrated to Paris and the United States where he completed his artistic studies and others. He left us drawings symbolic in their nature and oriental in their philosophy, with a sense of Sufism and spirituality that added a refined taste to Gibran’s literature.

Macaroff Fadel (1910-1945)
I did not want to conclude my talk with a tragedy but I have to mention this young man who had barely started his life with high hopes in art before fate took him away. I am referring to Macaroff Fadel.

EXCERPTS FROM “THE CONTEMPORARY ART IN LEBANON”
By Edward Lahoud

The shoreline, and especially Beirut, had become a bridgehead, a node of international communications, as well as a cultural, touristic and commercial center. It is at this point that art begins to open up to other big channels with the birth of the theatre, the big printing house, the public library, the newspaper and the university.

This overture period is characterized by a large number of Occidental artists “Orientalists,” who journey along the coast and draw with sublime taste every little corner. They are spellbound by the purity of its atmosphere, its natural beauties, its vestiges of the past, the oriental style of its buildings and the costumes of its natives. The first of these foreign painters is the English, Bartlett, who arrived to Lebanon in 1834 and installed his painting easel on the shores of Beirut and in its suburbs to paint the sea, the minarets, the towers, the white houses, the sycamores, the prickly pears, the men in an Arab costumes and the women in tantours.

Later comes Vignal who specializes in watercolor paintings. He painted a landscape of Kfarchima, a café scene “native” to Dbayeh and a view of Minet El Hoson where part of Beirut’s shoreline and the mountain are represented.

These foreign artists, “Orientalists,” marked the beginning of the “marine” painting school born in Beirut in the mid-19th century and primarily dedicated to painting boats and the sea. This school was not only influenced by Europe but also by the Turkish school whose style prevailed in all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire and hence impacted the art in Beirut and Tripoli. However, among such direct influences, the painters always focused their works on historical events, especially the battles, seeking to include the largest number of characters in their paintings to highlight the historical significance of these events.

One of the pioneers at the marine school was a neat skinny boy who spent full hours contemplating the sea and waves without satiation. It is Ibrahim Serbai who worked on portraits and landscapes but especially excelled at painting the sea and the boats. One of his major works is a grand painting representing the reception of the German emperor Wilhelm II at Beirut’s port. It illustrates the latter as decorated with flags, crowded with people and full of escort fleet units. On the streets and among the crowd, some horse carriages transport curious people wearing traditional local costumes. Serbai handled the brush with extreme delicacy and fineness. He had a keen sense of observation and an exquisite skill at accentuating colors, light and the transparency of the air. He even excelled at painting the restlessness of the waters and their reflections. His work is reminiscent of the famous Venetian artist Canaletto.

During the same period, in one of those narrow and dark alleys in Beirut, another artist named Jammal began to reveal his talent and taste. He spent most of his time contemplating the immensity of the blue sea. As a young man, he decided to go to Istanbul and join the War College where he graduated as a naval officer. On the Bosphorus, he painted several works full of vitality and vigor. He settled in Istanbul and worked as a painting professor in different governmental schools. In his works, he manifested a perfect mastery of all genres: portraits, paintings of animals and landscapes. He was remarkable for the precision of drawing, the meticulousness of color, the firmness of execution and the serenity of ambience.

We mention another pioneer of this artistic revival, a young man surnamed Dimashkieh, who painted the Victoria battleship as it wrecked in the waters of Tripoli while the English fleet sailed in the region. Following Dimashkieh, we mention Hassan Tannir and Salim Haddad from Abey, Mohammad Said Merhi from Basta and Najib Bakhazi from Achrafieh. Merhi emigrated to America, Haddad to Egypt and Bakhazi to Russia. Among them, the most remarkable is Salim Haddad who enjoys great fame in Egypt until today. To sum up, the significance of the marine school consists in calling value and attention to the warm luminous atmosphere of the Lebanese coast.

EXCERPTS FROM “THE SHORT STORY OF PAINTING IN LEBANON”
By Abdallah Naaman

Beirut becomes a major cultural, touristic and commercial center marked by the birth of the theatre, the big printing house, the public library, the newspaper and the university.
A number of Occidental artists visit Lebanon and draw with sublime taste every little corner. They are spellbound by the purity of its atmosphere, its natural beauties, its vestiges of the past, the oriental style of its buildings and the costumes of its natives. The first of these foreign painters is the English, Bartlett, who installed in 1834 his painting easel on the shores of Beirut and in its suburbs to paint the sea, the minarets, the towers, the white houses, the sycamores, the prickly pears, the men in an Arab costumes and the women in tantours. Later comes Vignal (1855 – 1924) who specializes in watercolor paintings. He painted a landscape of Kfarchima, a café scene “native” to Dbayeh and a view of Minet El Hoson where part of Beirut’s shoreline and the mountain are represented. Further arrives Louis-François Cassas (1756-1827) sent by Louis XV (1710-1774) on a mission to the East. He worked on hundreds of drawings.

These artists marked the beginning of the “marine” painting school born in Beirut in the mid-19th century and primarily dedicated to painting boats and the sea. This school was not only influenced by Europe but also by the Turkish school whose style prevailed in all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire and hence impacted the art in Beirut and Tripoli. However, among such direct influences, the painters always focused their works on historical events, especially the battles, seeking to include the largest number of characters in their paintings to highlight the historical significance of these events.

One of the pioneers at the marine school was Ibrahim Serbai, born in Beirut in 1865. He worked on portraits and landscapes but especially excelled at painting the sea and the boats. One of his major works represents the reception of the German emperor Wilhelm II (1859 -1941) at Beirut’s port. The painting is reminiscent of the famous Venetian artist, Giovanni Canaletto (1697-1768).

During the same period, another artist from Beirut named Jammal spent most of his time contemplating the immensity of the blue sea. Later, he decided to go to Istanbul and join the War College where he graduated as a naval officer. On the Bosphorus, he painted several works full of vitality and vigor. He settled in Istanbul and worked as a painting professor in different governmental schools.

Another pioneer of this artistic revival is a young man surnamed Dimashkieh, who painted the Victoria battleship as it wrecked in the waters of Tripoli while the English fleet sailed in the region. Following Dimashkieh, there was Hassan Tannir, Salim Haddad, Mohammad Said Merhi and Najib Bakhazi. Merhi emigrated to America, Haddad to Egypt and Bakhazi to Russia.