Gauguin Self-portrait with Manao
Paul Gauguin
Self-portrait with Manao tu papau 1893

I was very sad to hear about the recent theft of a Van Gogh painting from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Egypt. When we think of the art treasures associated with Cairo, it would be those of Ancient Egypt, or Islamic art, or even European Orientalist paintings, right? It is amazing to think of a Van Gogh on display in Giza, within hailing distance of the Pyramids! Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil (1873-1953), who was a wealthy and prominent figure in Cairo society, was passionate about French culture. He had trained as a lawyer at the Sorbonne, had a French wife, and even died in Paris. His collection includes a role call of French artists, Delacroix, Degas, Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir and Rodin. I was talking to someone who had visited the Museum and apparently there’s a view of the Thames by Monet hanging between windows overlooking the Nile - how gorgeous is that? There’s also a fabulous painting by Gauguin, La Vie et la Mort (1889), representing two bathers by the seashore - one of those strange, mysterious compositions we love him for, the kind that at first glance seems perfectly straightforward but ends up being a profound meditation on the human condition. Have any of you been to the Mahmoud Khalil Museum? I’d love to hear from you, if you have.  



Interesting that you say there is painting depicting a view of the Thames, by Monet, which is hanging between windows overlooking the Nile. Yes agree such a lovely thing to experience in terms of comparinging contrast or similarity of the views. What is doubly interesting for me though is that Monet's work is hung between two windows. I can't remember seeing anything like this in our large London galleries (possible I am wrong and that my memory is failing me). Instead we tend to have art hanging on walls where the only sunlight that enters the room is let in from above - thus no outside views. I would like to see more art placed in rooms where I can also view the outside world and if I wish can compare and contrast, or maybe even ignore. However, me thinks its all about protecting the art and thus the almost vault-like rooms in which we view art (in our larger galleries) is how it's going to stay.

By the way really looking forward to the Gaugin exhibition.


Now you get us thinking about collectors and collections! Was this collection on show during his lifetime or bequeathed after his death? Is it just his museum or part of a national collection? Is this mostly visited by tourists or is there a significant interest from the locals? When did he start collecting? When he was young or later in life? What was he hoping to project with his collection, or was it purely for his own interest? And we could talk musum security, but that's a whole different subject...


A lot of galleries aren't designed with outside windows - they take up too much wallspace! Even the great Country House collections designed their galleries to be top lit with lots of wallspace (eg Petworth's North Gallery and Bridgewater House Gallery in London). It's not a security issue, it's a practical and aesthetic one!


I was in Giza last year, I wish I had known about the gallery as I would have loved to have seen it. Alas, just a little too late.

Christine Riding

Interesting answer - and of course, like the Mahoud Khalil Museum - the Wallace Collection and Apsley House (to give two London examples) were built as residences for the aristocratic collectors but are now public galleries...


I love this museum specially the gauguin bit


I love this museum specially the gauguin bit

I visited Egyp ...

When I stayed in the Australian Hostel, I lost my towel. After I asked them for the laundry, they lost my towel. The cost for the laundry was 15LE and my towel cost around 30CHF.This is my memory of my travel to Egypt.