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Artists' Index
Encyclopedia of Modern Art and Arab World
موســــوعة الفـن الحديـــث والعالــم العربـــي
Artists' Index

Adham Wanly

أدهم وانلي
Adham Wanly

​Born on 25 February 1908 in Alexandria, Egypt; died on 20 December 1959 in Alexandria, Egypt.​​

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Adham Wanly

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Written by Dr. ​Nadia Radwan​​


Ibrahim Adham Wanly was born in 1908 in the neighborhood of Muharram Bey in Alexandria. His father, Ismaïl Bey Mohammed Wanly was of Turkish origin and his mother, Ismat Hanem al-Daghistani, was from Caucasia. Adham grew up, with his four sisters and his elder brother Seif in an aristocratic intellectual francophone environment and was educated by private tutors in the family palace of Urfan Pacha. Adham worked as the director of the book warehouse at the Education Authority in Alexandria.

Wanly first studied oil painting with his brother, Seif, in the studio of the Italian painter Arturo Zanieri (1870 - 1955) who had also been the teacher of Alexandrian painter Mahmoud Saïd (1897 - 1964). In 1929, the Italian painter, Ottorino Bicchi (1878 - 1949), educated at the Academy in Florence, opened a studio in Alexandria and the Wanly brothers were among his first students. When Bicchi closed his studio and returned to Italy before the Second World War, the Wanly brothers together with their friends, the painter Ahmad Fahmi and the filmmaker Mohammed Bayoumi, opened their own studio in Alexandria in 1935.

During the 1950's, Adham and his brother traveled to many European countries including France, Italy and Spain, where they sketched and painted numerous landscapes, as well as ballet, opera and theater performances. In 1957, the Wanly brothers were appointed as professors at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria founded the same year by the sculptor Ahmad Osman (1907 - 1970). Two years later, they were appointed by the Ministry of Culture to participate in recording the Nubian architectural heritage in Aswan before the area was due to be flooded by the construction of the High Dam . During that mission, along with many artists and professors of their generation, they produced numerous paintings and sketches of the Nubian vernacular villages and ancient temples. Adham Wanly died in 1959 at the age of fifty-one in al-Moassat hospital in Alexandria. After his death, the street next to his studio in Alexandria was named after him.

Adham Wanly, like his brother Seif, was a prolific artist. His early works are influenced by his Italian teacher, Ottorino Bicchi, who was close to the Italian macchiaioli, a group influenced by the French impressionist movement and the École de Barbizon. Bicchi introduced the Wanly brothers to outdoor painting and capturing the light, colors and shades of nature. Adham was later influenced by modern pictorial trends, such as cubism and fauvism. Together with his brother, he developed a passion for performance arts, such as circus, ballet and theater and captured the vibrant and dynamic movements of the performers on stage.

Adham also painted numerous landscapes of Alexandria, as well as views of Cairo and many European cities. With his brother Seif, he participated regularly in the Salons in Alexandria and Cairo, as well as in the Alexandria Biennial. In addition to being a painter, he was also a talented caricaturist and during the 1930's, he regularly published his satirical drawings in Egyptian newspapers and reviews, such al Ruz al-Yusuf. His works can be seen at the Seif and Adham Wanly Museum hosted in the villa of the Mahmoud Saïd Museum in Alexandria, the Museum of Fine Arts in Alexandria, the Museum of Egyptian Modern Art in Cairo, the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, as well as in numerous private collections around the world.


​​1961​​Retrospective exhibit showing more than 200 paintings and sketches produced between 1930 and 1959, Museum of Fine Arts, Alexandria, Egypt
​1958​Alexandria Biennial, Egypt
​1956 ​Venice Biennial, Italy
​_____​Exhibition with Seif Wanly, Museum of Fine Arts, Alexandria, Egypt
​1955​Alexandria Biennial, Egypt
​1949​Exposition Egypte – France, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, France
​1938​Alexandria Atelier, Egypt
​1935​Cairo Salon organized by the Society of Fine Arts Lovers, Egypt


Modern Egyptian art, Alexandria, Seif Wanly, macchiaioli, École de Barbizon, performance arts, ballet, opera, Nubian heritage, landscapes. 


Iskandar, Rushdī. Adham Wanlī (Adham Wanly). Cairo: General Information Organization, 1984.

Al-Malākh, Kamāl, al-Shār­ūnī, Ṣubḥī. Al-ikhwān Sayf wa Adham Wanlī (The Brothers Seif and Adham Wanly). Cairo: General Egyptian Book Organization, 1984.

Further Reading

Abaza, Mona. "Introduction" in Twentieth-Century Egyptian Art. The Private Collection of Sherwet Shafei. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2011. 

Azar, Aimé. La peinture moderne en Égypte. Le Caire: Les Éditions Nouvelles, 1961.

Karnouk, Liliane. Modern Egyptian Art (1910-2003). Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2005.