Mahmoud Khalil Museum
The Mahmoud Khalil Museum is one of Egypt's most exciting and remarkable art museums. Together with the modern art museum in the Opera House, the Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum, and the Gezira Art Center, the Mahmoud Khalil Museum is notable because of its unique selection of artworks. The museum is located in Cairo.
Another reason that the Mahmoud Khalil Museum is well-known is because of the building itself, the Villa of Mahmoud Khalil, which he built his wife built in 1915. The Eastern side of the villa was constructed facing the Nile in Giza. It was built in the "Arnovo" style, evident in the metal and glasswork that decorate this side of the house. The western side of the villa was built in the "new classical style" that allowed the villa to have different styles of decorations that synchronized together in fantastic harmony.
A substantial colored window dominates the northern side of the Mahmoud Khalil Museum. It displays a beautiful painting that visitors can view from the first and second floors of the museum. This window was painted by the French artist Lucien Matte in 1907. The house remained as a residence of Mahmoud Khalil and his family until 1960, when the house, at his request, was transformed into a museum. It displays many of his and many other works of art from local and international artists.
The Mahmoud Khalil Museum was forgotten by most Egyptians and tourists, except for some art fans who visit the museum occasionally. Suddenly, however, the museum attracted enormous attention. Still, this time, it was not because of the works of art it hosts but because of the weird and mysterious disappearance of the Poppy Flower, a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh.
The Disappearance Of "Poppy Flower"
The famous painting "Poppy Flower" or the "Vase and Flowers" was painted by Van Gogh in 1887, three years before his suicide. It is a medium-sized painting measuring 54 X 53 cm. It was painted with oil colors on a piece of cloth and contained a drawing of yellow and red poppy flowers in a beautiful vase. The price of this painting is estimated to be around $55 million US dollars.
This famous painting disappeared mysteriously from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum on August 23, 2010. A state of emergency was declared in all the Egyptian airports and art outlets. In a press conference held on the same day, the Egyptian minister of culture, Farouq Hosny, announced that the painting was stolen from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum.
The painting was eventually found. Many Egyptian government officials were captured in jail due to the theft of the painting, including the head of the fine arts section in the Egyptian government, Abdel Kader Shaalan, and many other government members who are being investigated.
What is weird is that the same painting, " The Poppy Flower," was stolen from the same museum, Mahmoud Khalil Museum, in 1977. The painting returned to the museum in an even more mysterious way when it was found in Kuwait ten years later. Many people, therefore, claim that the painting kept in the museum for this period, from 1987 to 2010, was an imitation version of the original painting sold in England.
Who Was Mahmoud Khalil?
Mahmoud Khalil was a great lover of art and a unique collector of many precious and exceptional items. Khalil was also a politician and worked as a minister and member of the Egyptian parliament for an extended period of his life.
Khalil was a major sponsor of the youth arts and was the leader of a fine arts lovers association, which he established with Al-Amir Yousef Kamal in 1924. This is in addition to his central role in the artistic and cultural exchange between Egypt and France, and his efforts were crowned with getting the highest French medals and honors.
Mahmoud Khalil was born in Cairo in 1877 and traveled to France to study law in 1897. He married a French lady called Imeline Hiktor Luis in 1907. Afterward, he went back to Egypt and built his palace in 1918. He also acted as the general commissioner for the Egyptian section in the international art festival held in Paris in 1937.
Khalil became the agriculture minister in the government of Al Wafd, an opposition party right now. He became the chairman of the Egyptian parliament between 1939 and 1940. The famous Egyptian artist and politician were fond of France and French culture and art; maybe that was because of his studies in Paris, and his French wife, Imiline, also influenced him. This was why he participated immensely in organizing a French art and decoration exhibition in Cairo in 1938.
Khalil was elected the reporter of the French Academy of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1948 and became an academy member in 1949. He supervised the organization of a décor exhibition named " Egypt- France" in Paris in 1949. Mahmoud Khalil died in Paris on December 31, 1953.
The Mahmoud Khalil Museum
The museum of Mahmoud Khalil and his wife is full of rare paintings and artwork, and it is considered an Egyptian art treasure house. The collection of Mahmoud Khalil himself is regarded as one of the hugest art collections of one of the most important modern art in Egypt and the Middle East. The ground floor and the second floor display the artworks the museum hosts. In contrast, the underground floor is used for administration and contains a library, an information center, and a discussion hall.
Besides the paintings, there are collections of vases and gems like emeralds, works of crystal, and works of carmen that Chinese artists created. There is a collection of beautiful bronze, marble, and plaster statues. Some Pharaonic sculptures were modern Egyptian artists made.
The museum hosts a lot of artwork that belongs to leaders of the impressionist school of art, like Dega and his painting " Toulouse-Lautrec" and the works of the French Romantic artist Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix. There are also many artworks of the Orient, like Frumentan, Preshide, and Gabriel Piesy.
There is also a collection of rare vases made out of French "Sefeir" and others created by Chinese, Turkish, and Iranian artists. There is also a selection of jewels that the Chinese artists created skillfully and made of emeralds, Krihtemal, and red coral.
There is also a remarkable collection of statues made by famous artists like Auguste Rodin, a renowned French sculptor who is considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, and his famous statue of the French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac.
The Mahmoud Khalil Museum contains some works of Bari, the famous animal statue creator Bari, and some classical portraits drawn by Holden. The beautiful painting of Eugène Delacroix, "The bathing nymphs." Among the most fabulous collections of artworks in the Mahmoud Khalil Museum are paintings and sculptures of various French artists that were dominant in the nineteenth century. This collection includes the works of Huepin, Marie Cannet, Henry Platoon, Gustave Moreau, and the most famous Gogan and Van Gogh.
The most famous paintings in the museum are "The Poppy Flower" by Van Gogh, "Windmills" by Charles Francois, and "The Jungle" by Hairirty.
Renovation Of The Mahmoud Khalil Museum
When a plan was designed for renovating the Mahmoud Khalil Museum, infrastructure was the first concern of the government to enable visitors to have cultural activities and organize art exhibitions in the museum.
A new building was added to the museum and constructed to the right of the entrance. It includes a cafe and an outlet to sell gifts and replicates of the works of art displayed in the museum. It also has a modern lecture hall and an exhibition hall, considered the largest and most beautiful in Egypt. The café can serve more than fifty guests at the same time. It provides hot and cold drinks and fast food meals. The walls of the café were constructed to include a lot of glass windows to enable the guests to view the beauty of the garden and the Villa of Mahmoud Khalil.
The exhibition hall, Ofoq, is the most significant and best-equipped in Egypt today. It contains the most updated lighting technology, temperature control, and security facilities.