Egypt’s Renaissance Statue Mahmoud Mukhtar (Arabic: محمود مختار) (May 10, 1891 – March 28, 1934) was an Egyptian sculptor. He attended the College of Fine Arts in Cairo upon its opening in 1908 by Prince Yusuf Kamal and was part of the original “Pioneers” of the Egyptian Art movement. Despite his early death, he greatly impacted the realization and formation of contemporary Egyptian art. His work is credited with signaling the beginning of the Egyptian modernist movement, and he is often referred to as the father of modern Egyptian sculpture.
History Born in the Nile Delta in a small village called Douar skouila, in the region of Mahalla al-Kubra, in the village of Tanbara, where his father was the mayor (‘Omda). Mukhtar moved to Cairo as a child with his mother, and in 1908 joined the newly founded Egyptian School of Fine Arts. In 1912, he joined the studio of Jules Coutan at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He stayed in Paris through World War I, eventually becoming employed at the Musée Grévin under the direction of his former teacher Guillaume Laplagne. Inspired by the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 he sculpted a small maquette of a work called “Nahdat Misr” [“Egypt’s Awakening” or “Egypt’s Renaissance” in English]. Gaining attention of young Egyptian revolutionaries, a national campaign to erect a monumental version was begun, resulting in an unveiling ceremony of the work in Cairo’s Bab al-Hadid Square outside Cairo’s main train station. The statue was later moved to a location outside Cairo University.
Mukhtar’s work is identified with early twentieth-century Egyptian nationalists and Pharaonist (i.e., drawing on Ancient Egyptian colossal sculpture) aesthetics. Mukhtar had been the first student to enrol in the Egyptian School of Fine Art in 1908 and went to Paris to continue his education in art in 1911, where he met the nationalist leader Saad Zaghloul in 1919.