Princess, painter, sometime chef: the colourful life of Fahrelnissa Zeid
‘I am the descendant of four civilisations. In my self-portrait, the hand is Persian, the dress is Byzantine, the face is Cretan, and the eyes Oriental, but I was not aware of this as I was painting it.’
The current retrospective of the work of Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901 – 1991) at London’s Tate Modern tells the story of one of Turkey’s most remarkable women. Born into a prominent family in Ottoman Turkey, she was educated in Istanbul and Paris, and lived the life of not only a princess, but also a diplomat’s wife and painter, in Baghdad, Berlin, Paris, London, and Amman. Until now, Zeid has largely been neglected in the West; but, in the first exhibition of its kind in Britain, with all but one of the paintings having been loaned from outside the country, the Tate Modern show is shedding light on her diverse oeuvre.