Georges Hanna Sabbagh

(1887, Alexandria, Egypt -1951)

Former student of Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier at the Académie Ranson, he discovered Perros-Guirec in 1916 after his marriage with Agnès Humbert, he will frequent this region until 1936. This Egyptian painter discovered avant-garde painting with his friends Yves Alix, Conrad Kickert, Henri de Waroquier, Jules-Emile Zingg. He learnt from the experience of Nabis, Fauves and Cubists in his La Clarté studio in Ploumanac'h. His two main themes are family and Brittany and then Egypte where he moved to from 1936. Sabbagh painted portraits in which the psychology supplants the physical reality, his cubists like portraits with dark tints and his sculptural bathers with opulent plumpness are characteristics of his art.

Thanks to Brittany he discovered his path : "it is where the real rest is" he said. His painting is modelled on the granitic earth : grave, voluntary, robust, troubled. He created thick paintings, with big touches in diagonal, personal vision of country he made his own.

Influenced by the intimism of Maurine Denis and sweeping nudes of Félix Vallotton, Sabbagh built his work with well-established knowledge giving a monumental aspect to the subject. Georges Hanna Sabbagh was influenced by cubism before to evolve during the interwar years to an expressionist realism with contrasting palette. His Eastern origins show through the decorative effect of his landscapes compositions, his nudes and his still live.

This "Breton Cubism", coming from the fertile ground of his summers in Ploumanac'h in the years 1908-1920, fed of the decorative spirit of Nabis at which the Cubist novelty was added then followed by the Expressionism developing in the thirties with his evocation power and his intensified realism.

Going from the particular to the general to express the essential, looking at the nature and painting "with souls" landscapes, trying to find the spirit behind the subject, these are the preoccupations of the artists of this interwar generation a little forgotten and rediscovered for some time.


Collections publiques (sélection)


Mathaf : Musée arabe d'art moderne, Doha


Musée des Années Trente, Boulogne-Billancourt


Musée de la Princerie, Verdun


Musée départemental de l'Oise, Beauvais


Musée des Années Trente, Boulogne-Billancourt


Musée national d'art moderne – Centre Pompidou, Paris


Musée départemental Maurice-Denis, Saint-Germain-en-Laye


Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble


Nederlands Letterkundig Museum, La Haye


Musée d'art moderne, Rio de Janeiro


Musée d'art moderne, Le Caire


Musée d'art moderne André-Malraux, Le Havre


Bibliographie (sélection)


Jean Sabbagh, Georges Sabbagh, Paris, Beauchesne, 1981


Georges Sabbagh et ses amis peintres de la Bretagne, Perros-Guirec, 1988


Histoire des Orientaux de France au XXe siècle, Paris, Ellipses, 2003


Le Corps découvert, cat. d'expo., Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 2012

Modernités plurielles, cat. d'expo., Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2013

Exhibitions selected


Menart Fair, Bruxelles, Galerie Françoise Livinec, 2023