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Title: The portrait of a country : painters, the art world and the invention of Lebanon, 1880-1943
Author: Tomb, Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7655 9206
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation studies the visual representation of Lebanon put forward by its painters and its art world during the period covering the last decades of the Ottoman Mutasarrifiyya of Mount Lebanon (1860-1918), the French Mandate (1920-1943), and the first years of the independent Lebanese Republic, after 1943. The period coincides with Lebanon's forging its identity as an autonomous political unit, but it also corresponds with the formation of a local art world. While the investigation of painting reveals an alternative fashioning of Lebanon created outside the political sphere, art was nevertheless informed by socioeconomic developments. Part I examines the professionalisation of painting between the 1880s and the 1920s. Chapter 1 looks at the adoption of Western painting and other kinds of images, among them photography, in the Mutasarrifiyya and in Beirut. Chapter 2 retraces the careers of the first professional painters, Daoud Corm (1852-1930), Khalil Saleeby (1870-1928), and Habib Serour (1863-1938). Part II studies the formation of an art world in the 1930s and 1940s. Chapter 3 investigates the formation of an elite artistic culture centred on the art show. Chapter 4 examines instances when the leading painters of the period, Moustafa Farroukh (1901- 1957), Omar Onsi (1901-1969), and César Gemayel (1898-1958), proposed conservative aesthetic theories and defined their conception of the artist's role in society. Chapter 5 analyses their works, which most frequently represented an idealised Mountain physical and social landscape, hinting at their patrons' possible conflicted relationship with modernity. Part III looks at the visual presentation of the country to foreign audiences from the 1920s to the 1940s. Chapter 6 examines the presentation of Lebanon as an authentic Mountain holiday destination by the tourism industry, which would take up artists' aesthetics and themes. Chapter 7 turns to the role of art in the conceptualisation of Lebanon in large-scale international events. The Mandate authorities exploited art to assert their power at the 1921 Foire-Exposition de Beyrouth and at the Exposition Coloniale de Vincennes in 1931. However, at the 1939 New York World's Fair, art helped affirm the autonomy of the Lebanese Republic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral