Old Pastel Master: Edgar Chahine

Edgar Chahine Collage
Edgar Chahine Collage

Edgar Chahine (1874-1947) was born in Vienna, Austria to Armenian parents and he grew up in Constantinople, Turkey. Chahine and his mother had moved to Venice to escape the persecution of Armenians in Turkey, and there Chahine started studying art in 1892.
At age 21 he decided to travel to Paris and pursue a career in fine arts. He studied painting under formal instruction at the Académie Julian. Chahine began to experiment with the possibilities of print making at the age of 25. Although he had already achieved some success with his paintings, he became fascinated with prints and soon worked exclusively in this medium. His prints were very much in demand by collectors and he won several medals and awards and received many commissions. The death of his fiancé plunged him into a deep depression, and he left Paris to travel through Italy. This voyage gave him the serenity and the inspiration to begin working with new enthusiasm actually etching the day’s drawings onto copper plates in his hotel room each night. He returned with new vigor and expanded his efforts to once again include pastels and oils in his work. Many of Chahine’s prints were lost in a fire in his atelier in 1926, and many more were destroyed in a flood in 1942. Some of the remaining pastel works can be found at the Musee Armenian de France in Paris.

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