Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid

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Fahrelnissa Zeid
Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid.jpg
Born 1901 (1901)
Büyükada island, İstanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died 5 September 1991 (aged 89-90)
Amman, Jordan
Known for Painting, collage, stained glass
Spouse(s) Izzet Melih Devrim
Prince Zeid bin Hussein

Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid (Arabic: الأميرة فخر النساء زيد‎‎) or Fakhr un-nisa (1901 – 5 September 1991) was a Turkish artist whose work blended the elements of Islamic and Byzantine art from the East with abstract and other influences from the West. She worked in a variety of media such as large oil paintings, collages and stained glass panels.

She married into the Hashemite royal family of Iraq and is the mother of Prince Ra'ad, the present claimant to the Iraqi throne.


Fahrelnissa was born in the Turkish island of Büyükada on the coast of Istanbul in 1901 to a prominent Ottoman family. Her father was Muhammad Shakir Pasha Kabaaj (Kabaağaçlı), an Ottoman diplomat, brigadier, photographer, and historian, and also the brother of Grand Vizier Cevat Pasha. Her mother was Sara Izmat Khanum from Crete.[1] She was the sister of writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (the Fisherman of Halicarnassus/Halikarnas Balıkçısı) and painter Aliye Berger. She was also the aunt of artist Cem Kabaağaç and ceramist Fureya Koral.

She was educated at Lycée Notre Dame de Sion Istanbul and Pansion Bnagiotti. She was then one of the first women to attend the Fine Arts Academy (Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi) in Istanbul,[2] later studying at the Académie Ranson in Paris under Roger Bissiere and Stahlbach.

Her first marriage was to novelist Izzet Melih Devrim, one of Servet-i Fünun writers, in 1920. This union produced three children: Faruk (1921 – 1924), artist Nejad Devrim (1923 – 1995) and director/actress Şirin Devrim (1926 – 2011).[1] In Athens, November 1933, she married Prince Zeid bin Hussein, the ambassador of Iraq to Ankara and brother of King Faisal I.[3] With Zeid she had only one child, a son, Prince Ra'ad.

Her first one-woman show was held in Istanbul in 1944, followed by exhibitions in London and Paris. Her New York City début came in 1950 when she exhibited a series of large abstract canvases at the Hugo Gallery. She went on to participate in almost 50 exhibitions in Europe, U.S.A. and the Middle East.

Her husband died in 1970, and in 1975 she moved to Amman, Jordan, where her son Ra'ad lived, and where she established the Fahrelnissa Zeid Institute of Fine Arts. She died 5 September 1991 and is buried in the Royal Mausoleum, Raghdan Palace, Amman, Jordan.

In October 2012, a number of her paintings were sold at auction by Bonhams for a total of £2,021,838.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Fahrelnissa Zeid". Mathaf Encyclopedia of Modern Art and the Arab World. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  2. ^ "Fahrelnissa Zeid Dies; Abstract Painter, 89". The New York Times. September 11, 1991. 
  3. ^ "Harala gürele arasında sanat.....". Timeturk (in Turkish). 14 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Bonhams sets new world record for Turkish Artist Fahrelnissa Zeid". Bonhams. October 2, 2012.