Fahr El-Nissa Zeid (Turkish, 1900-1991) Portrait of Princess Alia of Jordan

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Lot 15*
Fahr El-Nissa Zeid
(Turkish, 1900-1991)
Portrait of Princess Alia of Jordan

Sold for £ 234,350 (US$ 301,602) inc. premium
Fahr El-Nissa Zeid (Turkish, 1900-1991)
Portrait of Princess Alia of Jordan
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Fahr El-Nissa Zeid" in Arabic (lower right), inscribed "El Amira Aliya Husein, Her H. Princess Alia Jordan 1982 No. 13" on the verso, executed in 1982
227 x 147cm (89 3/8 x 57 7/8in).


  • Provenance:
    Property from the collection of Princess Alia Al Hussein

    Amman, Qasr Al Thaqafa, Fahrelnissa and Her Institute, 1981

    Amman, Fahrelnissa Zeid Institute of Fine Arts, Fahrelnissa Zeid and Her Institute: Exhibition Catalogue, 1981

    Andre Parinaud, The Royal National Jordanian Institute Fahrelnissa Zeid Fine Arts, Fahr El Nissa Zeid, 1984, illustrated on page 127


    "When painting a portrait, you find yourself dealing with a three-character play: there is the human being sitting, there is the painter, and there is a third character, who must be generated not only by looking at the model. The point is to discover the models interior life, the one that lies behind his forms and features, and in going that far, you also go deep inside yourself" Fahr El-Nissa Zeid

    Rarely do auction houses enjoy the privilege of presenting such a seminal set of works from one of the Middle East's most ground-breaking and celebrated painters: these larger than life portraits of the late King Hussein of Jordan, and his eldest daughter, Princess Alia, were not only the centerpieces of one of the artists most important exhibitions in Amman in 1981, but come directly from the Royal family itself, having been in the private collection of Princess Alia over the past thirty years.

    A relative of Fahr El-Nissa, Princess Alia is the eldest daughter of Jordan's late King Hussein, who ruled the Kingdom from 1952-1999. The two enjoyed a close relationship from childhood, and after Fahr El-Nissa's subsequent move to Amman in 1975 the two developed a far closer bond as Alia became, an enthusiastic student of Fahr El-Nissa's informal art lessons in Amman.

    The present works are critical examples of Fahr El Nissa's later portraiture, a period which was almost entirely defined by her personal relationships, and where the majority of her output consisted of stylized depictions of members of her intimate circle. Arguably some of the most memorable works of Fahr El-Nissa's long career stem from this period including her magnificent Self Portrait "Someone from The Past", currently one of the centerpieces of the Artists retrospective at Tate Modern, which was exhibited alongside both present works in her seminal 1981 show in Amman.

    Superlative quality, monumental scale, distinguished provenance, important subject matter, and significant exhibition history form to make these some of the most rare and exquisite works by Fahr El Nissa to come to the market.


    "I painted with Fahr El-Nissa in the early eighties and we were also near neighbours at the time. She was married to my great grandfather's brother. I knew her from childhood as we used to visit her and Prince Zeid when they lived in England and of course when she came to live in Jordan we all met regularly as family aside from my dabbling in art. She was a delight to be around, always interesting and positive and someone I enjoyed visiting

    I was a member of the Sitti Fahr El-Nissa school – meaning that she was kind enough to include me in her weekly mornings of tea and painting. She was colorful both in her person and in her surroundings – from artworks to Turkish fabrics of gold and velvet to lamps with flower arrangements stuck on them – and the same went for her jewelry, from plastic rings from a cracker worn next to impressive diamonds! She would serve brunch with savories and sweets and then we were let loose in her spare rooms with huge canvases and paint and told to just express ourselves

    "The painting of me started with me sitting for it for two sessions but not successive as she painted in between - she then changed the eye colour at some stage – I actually felt it resembled me a little more before she changed it, but she liked to put things in her own way!" - Princess Alia Al Hussein


    Princess Alia Al Hussein

    Princess Alia bint Hussein is the eldest child of King Hussein of Jordan from his first wife, Sharifa Dina bint Abdul-Hamid. Princess Alia's mother is an Egyptian-born third cousin of King Hussein's father, King Talal. A graduate of Cambridge University and a former lecturer in English literature at Cairo University, Sharifa Dina first met King Hussein in London, where they were both studying in 1952, and by 1955 the couple were married. Although the marriage was short-lived, the couple gave birth to Princess Alia in 1956 before parting a year later.

    Princess Alia received her schooling in Amman and the United Kingdom, before graduating with honours from the University of Jordan in 1977, obtaining a bachelor's degree in English literature.

    Princess Alia's lifelong passion and endeavour has been striving towards the better care and treatment of animals and wildlife. To this end she established the Princess Alia Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that is under the Ministry of Social Development in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Its stated motto is "Respect and Compassion towards Creation". Having witnessed from an early age the serious deterioration in how animals and the environment are perceived and treated, she established this foundation with the goal of addressing all these issues holistically.

    The Foundation works with rehabilitation of native wildlife, as well as providing solutions for creatures confiscated from illegal wildlife traders and inadequate zoos, as well as humane and sustainable solutions for stray animal control. It also works with the youth and education and therapy through interaction with equines for people on the autistic spectrum and others with emotional and behavioral problems.

    As a young girl, Princess Alia cared for a Shetland pony, developing a bond with animals that has since blossomed into a strong passion for interacting with animals and all nature in a humane and mutually respectful manner. This is strongly reflected in her attitude towards another major aspect of her work, equestrianism. As director of the Royal Stables of Jordan for the Preservation of the Arabian Horse, Princess Alia initiated the annual festival of the 'Arabian Horse at Home' and organised the Middle East Championships for Purebred Horses. She has been President of the Royal Jordanian Equestrian Federation since 1993.


Saleroom notices

  • Please note the measurements above are framed dimensions, the artist herself used framed dimensions in the original exhibition catalogue for the work and we have therefore included the frame as part of the overall composition. The unframed dimensions of the work are 215 x 132 cm
Fahr El-Nissa Zeid (Turkish, 1900-1991) Portrait of Princess Alia of Jordan
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