01 Painting, Middle East Artists, The Art of War, Faeq Hassan’s Untitled (Salah Al-Din, presumably Battle of Hattin), with Footnotes #72

Henry Zaidan
3 min readMay 22, 2024
Faeq Hassan (Iraqi, 1914–1992)
Untitled (Salah Al-Din, presumably Battle of Hattin), c. 1968

Oil on canvas
67 x 38 3/8in (170 x 227cm.)
Private collection

Estimate for USD 400,000 — USD 500,000 in Mar 2017

The Battle of Hattin took place on 4 July 1187, between the Crusader states of the Levant and the forces of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin. It is also known as the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, due to the shape of the nearby extinct volcano of that name.

The Muslim armies under Saladin captured or killed the vast majority of the Crusader forces, removing their capability to wage war. As a direct result of the battle, Muslims once again became the eminent military power in the Holy Land, re-capturing Jerusalem and most of the other Crusader-held cities and castles. These Christian defeats prompted the Third Crusade, which began two years after the Battle of Hattin. More on The Battle of Hattin

Faeq Hassan (1914–1992) was an Iraqi painter noted for founding several 20th century art groups, which collectively were responsible for bridging the gap between Iraqi heritage and traditional art and modern art. He is often called the ‘father of Iraqi modern art.’

Hassan was born in Baghdad in 1914 His father had died before Hassan was born. As a child, he helped his mother who made folkloric clay statues of Arab Bedouins and local farmers. As a young boy, he visited his uncle who was working as a gardener for King Faisal I where the King saw the boy drawing a horse. Recognising his talent, the King promised to give the young artist a scholarship. However, the King died in 1933 before he could carry out his promise.

During the early 1930s, Hassan gave art lessons at a local school, and when the new King Faisal II visited his school, he ordered that Hassan be sent to Paris to study art, thus fulfilling his father’s earlier promise to the young boy. He graduated from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris in 1938. Hassan was one a very small group of artists sent to study abroad. On their return to Iraq, this group became the cornerstone of modern art in Iraq.

On his return to Baghdad, Hassan founded the Painting Department at the Fine Arts Institute in 1939–1940. He also founded the Al-Ruwad (The Pioneers Group), in the 1930s . The group attempted to incorporate local phenomena into art. They rejected the artificial atmosphere of the artist’s studio and encouraged artists to engage with nature and traditional Iraqi life and held their first exhibition in 1931. This group was responsible for taking the first steps towards bridging the gap between modernity and heritage.

For most of his working life, he was a member of the Iraqi Artists’ Society. He died in 1992 from heart failure. More on Faeq Hassan

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Henry Zaidan

In my Blog is an Online collection of significant paintings from the 1st century to today; complete with art-history and artist bibliographies.