George Aleef

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George Aleef (1887–1970) was a Russian orientalist painter who served in the Tsarist Army. He later lived in Palestine until the 1948 Palestinian exodus. His paintings depicted major historical moments during that era in Palestine. Aleef eventually settled in Jordan, where he taught a group of young, local artists who were instrumental in creating a Jordanian art movement. Aleef's family name is sometimes spelled as Allief or Aleev.[1]


Born in Russia, he served as a bodyguard for Tsar Nicholas II of Russia until the October Revolution broke out. In 1920, he became a professional painter and left Russia for Istanbul, Turkey where he remained until the war. He later moved to Palestine and in 1948 during the Palestinian exodus, he moved to Jordan, where he lived till 1967 before moving Beirut. He was able to make a living by giving painting lessons, Russian language lessons and by selling small works of art. He set up a studio in Jordan and was considered to be a very useful teacher in Jordan where he introduced locals to easel painting and promoted an appreciation of European art. [2] Local artists including Muhanna Al-Dura, Rafiq Lahham, and Suha Katibah Noursi studied in Aleef's studio. These young artists helped to spark a local, Jordanian art movement. [3]


Aleef's personal experiences living and working in strife-torn countries informed his work. The themes he chose for his work almost always involve real historical episodes or of great monuments. His style is rather neo-classical and has naive traits which are apparent in practically all his works. He used both oils and water color. During his time in Palestine, he painted Jerusalem with an Arabic identity also portraying a time where mosques, churches and synagogues coexisted peacefully.

He had many exhibitions in Jerusalem, Amman and Beirut and many of his paintings are hanging at the Jordanian Royal Court and in private Jordanian collections. One of his works, featuring a ruined monument, hangs in the Jordan National Art Gallery. [4]

Select list of paintings[edit]

  • Jerash n.d.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Artists' Trade Union of Russia, The Register of Professional Artists of Russian Empire, USSR, Russian emigration, Russian Federation and the republics of former Soviet Union, (XVIII–XXI centuries) Online: gives his name as Georgy Aleev.
  2. ^ Wejdan, A., Contemporary Jordanian Art, [Alfan alarabi almu’aser], Ministry of culture, Amman, 2nd print, 2002, p. 17; Zuhur, S., Colors of Enchantment: Theater, Dance, Music, and the Visual Arts of the Middle East, American University in Cairo Press, 2001, p. 375
  3. ^ Mejcher-Atassi, S. and Schwartz, J.P., Archives, Museums and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World, Routledge, 2016, p.175
  4. ^ Jordan National Art Gallery, Photo Gallery, Online: