Contemporary Arts

Adham Wanly

(b 1908 – d 1959),


Adham Wanly was a painter who introduced modern art to Egypt after studying with his brother Seif Wanly at the Studio of the Italian Artist Otorino Becchi from 1930 to 1934. He was a member of the teaching staff at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria from 1957 till his death.


After his mentor’s death, in 1934 he opened a private studio to teach painting without using models. He explored nature through every day events of his hometown which he subjected to his painting; namely the sea and fishermen’s boats among other things. He was a plastic art pioneer of distinguished talent based on sensations and feelings instead of direct vision. His paintings combined the impressionistic touch, romance and love of nature.


Wanly was mostly famous for recording the life of the theatre and circus. He specialized in the ballet and opera that is featured in the Cairo Opera House and Mohamed Ali Theatre in Alexandria. The paintings render the stage lights and movments of the people involved and he is able to express the light and agility in various ways.


In 1942, Adham and Seif Wanly decided to open their private studio. Adham Wanly is always mentioned in connection with his brother, Seif Wanly, and indeed the two brothers were always together. Their talents appeared with the same teacher. While Wanly broke with stylistic bounds in art, Adham remained faithful to his own world, expressive of what went on around him, especially the world of folk and classical dance, which held him spellbound and never lost its fascination for him. He was an extraordinary portrait artist, and an unusually fine cartoonist.


They participated together in more than 17 exhibitions, notably in the Biennale of Alexandria, Venice and in Sao-Paolo, Brazil. Some of their exhibitions are: Solo exhibitions in 1942 at the British Institute in Alexandria, the Egyptian-French Friendship Society in Paris in 1949, the exhibition inspired by the atrocities of the Second World War at the British Institute in Alexandria, The Unesco Art Exhibition in Beirut in 1949 and the Egypt-France Exhibition in Paris.


Today an entire floor of the Mahmoud Said Museum in Alexandria is dedicated to Adham and Seif Wanly master pieces.

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