Samuel Fyzee Rahamin

Other names: 

Fyzee Fyzee-Rahamin


Royal Academy of ArtsLondon, W1J 0BD
United Kingdom
51° 30' 23.5584" N, 0° 8' 33.2808" W
Date of birth: 
19 Dec 1880
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1964
Precise date of death unknown: 
Location of death: 
Karachi, Pakistan

Samuel Fyzee Rahamin was born in Poona, now Pune, India. After training at the School of Art in India, he moved to London to enrol at the Royal Academy Schools where he was taught by John Singer Sargent and Solomon J. Solomon. He returned to India in 1908 abandoning the loose brushwork technique inherited from Sargent and became increasingly committed to reviving the traditional style of Moghul painting. On his marriage to Atiya Begum (of the Fyzee family) in 1912, Samuel Rahamin, a Jew by faith, converted to Islam and took the name Fyzee Rahamin. His wife was a respected authority on Indian music and her book The Music of India (1925) was widely appreciated. Atiya Fyzee wrote travel accounts of her time in Europe, had a friendship with Mohammad Iqbal, and her brother was a successful tennis player who appeared at Wimbledon. Music seems to have had an important influence on Samuel Fyzee Rahamin’s work who illustrated his wife’s book.

His career is further evidence of the global networks of art and culture at the beginning of the twentieth century. He lived in Bombay (now Mumbai), but held his first exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in 1914. He also exhibited in the UK and America, including the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. A 1926 issue of Burlington Magazine carried a notice of his exhibition of watercolours at Arthur Tooth & Sons Gallery, entitled ‘Water-Colours, India, Vedic, Mythological and Contemporary’. In May 1939, he held a ‘Special Exhibition’ displaying ‘Modern Indian Art, on traditional lines’ at the American Association, New York. He was recruited to become an art advisor to the state of Baroda and also painted frescoes for the Imperial Secretariat, New Delhi, in 1926-7 and 1928-9.

In 1928, Samuel Fyzee Rahamin approached William Rothenstein to recommend him to paint the proposed murals in India House in Aldwych. Fyzee Rahamin was not appointed because of his seniority. Fyzee Rahamin assisted the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in the reorganization of collections of Asian art. He was also a writer and published plays and poetry. He lived in Karachi from 1947 and his art collection, which he presented to the Aiwan-e-Riffat Museum in Karachi, is now housed in the Fyzee Rahamin Art Gallery. There are also examples of his work in Tate Britain and Manchester City Art Gallery.


Atiya Fyzee Begum (wife), J. A. Lalkaka, William Rothenstein, John Singer Sargent, Solomon J. Solomon, W. E. Gladstone Solomon

Involved in events: 
Published works: 

Atiya Begum and Fyzee Fyzee-Rahamin, Music of India (London: Luzac, 1925)

Souvenir of the Exhibition of Indian Painting, 1928, preface by S. Fyzee Rahamin (Bombay: Society for the Encouragement of Indian Art, 1928)

Daughter of India (London: J. B. Pinker, 1937)

Invented Gods (London: Herbert Joseph, 1938)



Furst, H., ‘Mr Fyzee Fyzee-Rahamin’s Paintings’, Apollo II (July-December 1925), pp. 91-4

Secondary works: 

Mitter, Partha, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism (London: Reaktion, 2007)

Archive source: 

Duplicate passport, IOR/L/PJ/11/1/1401/1932, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letter from William Rothenstein to Samuel Fyzee Rahamin, Ms Eng 1148/1679, William Rothenstein Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University