Unveiling the Ancient in the Modern: A historical examination of gender, nationalism, and Pharaonism in selected works by Mahmoud Mohktar, in the 1920s, and Muhammad Nagi, in 1922 and 1937
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The nationalist movement in Egypt of the late 19th century and early 20th century introduced ancient history into everyday discourse through public displays of monumental sculpture and art. These works brought Pharaonic themes into contact with another major issue of the time, the "woman question" or early Egyptian feminism. The juxtaposition of Pharaonic themes and women, especially in the art of Mahmoud Mohktar and Muhammad Nagi, accented the ways in which new Egyptian art could combine feminist discourse with nationalist rhetoric relating to Ancient Egypt. By historicizing the Pharaonic and gendered art of Mahmoud Mokhtar and Muhammad Nagi I will show that these new Egyptian artists used their work to explore progressive portrayals of women. I do this by answering two important questions, namely how did this "first generation of Egyptian artists" depict women and how did their art intersect with the feminist movement.