Maurice Nahman: Antiquities Collector, Dealer and Authority
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October 18, 2020 at 3:00 PM ET/ 9:00 PM EET
Iman R. Abdulfattah
"Maurice Nahman: Antiquities Collector, Dealer, and Authority"
The late 19th-early 20th century saw a proliferation of collectors and museums acquiring objects from the Middle East. What was being collected by these individuals and institutions was largely shaped by the connoisseurship of a well-connected network of dealers in possession of vast assemblages of antiquities. One such figure was Maurice Nahman (1868–1948). He operated in the Downtown area of Cairo starting in 1890, and his fingerprints are all over Egyptian antiquities sales to the top museums in Europe and the U.S.
While Nahman is mostly recognized as the foremost dealer of ancient Egyptian artifacts, he similarly effected an interest in later periods of Egyptian history. He sold Coptic and Islamic objects of the highest quality to museums that had yet to establish independent departments dedicated to these fields, and helped shape public and private perceptions of a nascent discipline. The objective of this talk is to reconstruct his biography and professional trajectory through the lens of his relations with art historians, curators, collectors and buyers, with a focus on post-pharaonic material.
About: Iman R. Abdulfattah:
Iman R. Abdulfattah is a PhD Candidate in Islamic Art and Archaeology at Universität Bonn, writing her dissertation on the urban complex commissioned by the Mamluk Sultan al-Manṣūr Qalāwūn (r. 678-689/1279-1290) in Cairo. She also teaches Islamic art and architecture at NYU's School of Professional Studies. Prior to this, she was a Project Manager at the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt, where she worked on a number of museum and heritage projects, primarily coordinating the renovation of the Museum of Islamic Art. Her primary areas of research include the material culture and built environment of medieval Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean, and has published on the patronage of architecture in the Mamluk period. Separately, she researches the network of antiquarians who were active in Egypt during the first half of the 20th century, looking at their relationship with the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe and contributions to building important Islamic Art collections in Egypt, Europe, and the US.
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