Forgotten Women Artists In Art History: Fahrelnissa Zeid

She was born into a wealthy Ottoman family and when she was growing up she experienced how the Turkish Republic rose. She also had an interesting name: Fahrelnissa.

 

My Hell, 1951, Fahrelnissa Zeid

Zeid was born in 1901, in Turkey when Turkey was still the Ottoman Empire. Her family members were mostly artists too, so she had a promising background in arts and culture. She was only eight when she started to paint. At the age of 14, she drew a watercolor portrait of her grandmother. Even in her early years, she was deeply interested in art.

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid when she was studying in Fine Arts Academy (the 1920’s)

She was one of the first female students in Sanay-i Nefise Mektebi (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.) After graduating from Sanay-i Nefise Mektebi, she went to Paris for higher education in painting.

 

Untitled, Fahrelnissa Zeid

 

After her education, she lived in different cities including Istanbul, Berlin, and Paris. She quickly became a successful painter in the 1930’s and 1940’s. In 1954 her work was exhibited in the Institute of Contemporary Art.

 

Zeid painting in her studio around 1950’s.

 

Around 1970’s she moved to Amman, Jordan where she established an art school.

 

Not only for us, but also for art critiques too, defining Fahrelnissa Zeid’s style is always tricky and complicated. We can see Islamic, Byzantine and European influences on her artwork. Even though her early work is mostly made up of abstract paintings, she painted lots of portraits in her late career in Jordan too. She died in 1991 in Jordan.

Zeid, Fahrelnissa; Red Composition; Bradford Museums and Galleries; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/red-composition-23193

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid was a unique artist. Her background and life were interesting too. She always had something to say, so she left us lots of paintings to look and wonder about art.