Of Armenian descent, Chahine was born in Vienna where his father was the director of the Ottoman Bank. His family returned to Constantinople when he was very young but later moved to Italy to escape Turkish persecution of the Armenians. He studied in Venice before moving to Paris in 1895 where he enrolled at the Academie Julian and started exhibiting at the Society of French Artists and Paris Salon. In 1900 his prints earned him a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris and in 1903 he won another gold medal at the Venice Biennale. Chahine’s subjects were often drawn from the society, streets and theatres of Paris, from the poor and dispossessed and from Armenian themes. In 1926 he was a founding member of Ani, the Union of French-Armenian Artists in Paris. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1925 and was awarded the Legion de’Honneur in 1932. In addition to his paintings and pastels he was a highly accomplished print maker. Nearly two-thirds of his work was destroyed in a studio fire in 1926 and more was lost in a flood in 1942, his work is therefore rare. Some of his remaining pastel works can be found in the collection of the Musee Armenian de France in Paris.
We are grateful to Prof. Charles Sorrel, who is currently preparing a catalogue raisonné of Chahine’s prints, for his kind help in cataloguing this picture.
From the collection of Lord Lee of Trafford, Bowdon Old Hall, Cheshire.
Venice Biennale, International Section, 1922, no.8.
Francesco Sapori, L’Arte Mondiale alla XIII Exposizione de Venezia, Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche – Editore, Bergamo, 1922 (illustrated).