Contemporary Arts

Seif Wanly

(b 1906 – d 1979),


Seif was an Egyptian painter  who introduced modern art to Egypt after studying at the studio of the Italian Artist Otorino Becchi. He also studied at Hassan Kamel school (Social Fine Art Association in Alexandria) and attained the Honorary PhD in Art from the Fine Art Academy in Egypt.


He was privately tutored in art. In his portraits we find characters in self- reflective gestures detached from the pace of life. While some of his paintings capture live entertainment, theatre and musical performances such as travelling circuses and ballets, as seen in Russian Ballet (1958-60), Seif’s primary concentration was to depict daily life. In Mother and Child (1957), he explores maternal intimacy, while Nocturne (1953) features a reflective scene of a solitary driver dozing on his a horse drawn taxi.


Employing a distinct style of bright colors, form and composition, the paintings of Seif Wanly blend the geometry of simplified shapes with Futurist and Cubist influences.


In 1940 he set up his own studio with his brother Adham Wanly that was open to the public and any-one interested in the arts. Together, they participated in more than 17 exhibitions, notably in the Biennale of Venice and in São Paulo, Brazil. In the late 1950s, Wanly travelled to Nubia to produce a series of paintings and drawings portraying life in Upper Egypt for a governmental project to document culture and conditions prior to the relocation that occurred to enable construction of the Aswan High Dam.


Seif was honored by several awards: Mukhtar Award in Oil Painting in 1936, Richard Award (Golden Lash) in 1949, Medal of the Asian and African Arts Exhibition in Cairo in 1956, the State Promotional Prize in Art in 1973, the Golden Medal and Order Science & Art in 1974. He got the 1st prize in Oil Painting at the Egyptian Pavilion, the 3rd Alexandria Biennale and was awarded the key of Alexandria.


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

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