Saturday, April 21, 2012

Edgar Chahine (1874-1947)

Edgar Chahine was born in 1874, probably in Vienna, to Armenian parents, and was taken as a child to Constantinople, where he lived until he was eighteen.The name Shahin ( Chahine ) means "royal falcon' in Persian (also as a borrowed word in Turkish). One of Edgar Chahine's ancestors, an artisan, is said to have got this name because he was so quick at his work. The family name was probably originally Shahinian; later the Armenian ending -ian was dropped in accordance with a not Determined to study art he travelled to Venice, where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti under the genre painter, Antonio Paoletti and the sculptor, Antonio dal Zotto.

This picture is from Armenian Museum of France.

 He settled permanently in Paris in 1895 and, Edgar Chahine enrolled at the Academie Julian, and he exhibited at the Society of French Artists from 1896 to 1899 including the series "Life lamentable", featuring paintings of the underprivileged.In Paris, Edgar Chahine found himself neither a part of the traditional schools and academic circles nor identified with the more contemporary artists and art movements of the time.

The artist Edgar Chahine, who captured the high spirit and style of la belle époque so well, also provided one of the most realistic mirrors of the wretchedness of life at the turn of the century.He lived in Paris at a time when the contrasts between wealth and poverty, gaiety and suffering were indeed extreme. While other subjects occasionally found their way onto his etching plates, it was primarily these two opposing realities which occupied his creative energies throughout his career.

The prince of Armenian book illustrators in modern times was Edgar Chahine, that most stylish of engravers, whose incomparable, imaginative work adorns some of the best editions of French writers such as Flaubert, Barres, Colette, Huysmans and the Goncourts.Chahine was more at home with the bourgeoisie than with the aristocracy . The aristocracy appears in his plates — seen from a respectful distance. He is much ) closer both to the world of friends and the worlds of the carnival, the small artisans, tha tarts, the poor, the dispossessed.

Edgar Chahine (1874-1947):illustrator and engraver : exhibition at the Royal Library, Stockholm, September 1975
The Armenians: a people in exile by David Marshall Lang
Edgar Chahine, la vie parisienne by Gabriel P. Weisberg

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