Abraham, Sarah et André-Gibert Hassoun, Eïn Beïda, 1904

In search of the Hassoun family of Constantine

From Tuesday 21 July 2020 until Sunday 17 January 2021

After an extensive investigation, the mahJ’s curators have unveiled part of the mystery shrouding three portraits of the Hassoun family of Constantine. Their research succeeded in localising the family, discovering the cultural identities indicated by the garments worn and establishing the singular path that took them to France. 

In addition to these discoveries, this presentation is an opportunity to more fully understand the work of the museum’s curators and their interest in each work’s hidden facets...

Abraham Hassoun (1876-1972), Abraham and Sarah Hassoun and their son André Gilbert, Constantine, 1904

Abraham Hassoun (1876-1972), Abraham and Sarah Hassoun and their son André Gilbert, Constantine, 1904

In December 2019 the mahJ acquired three large pastel pictures executed from photographs by a certain A. Hassoun in 1904: a couple in western dress in a park with a child in a new pram, and a man and woman in oriental dress. On the back of the first canvas an inscription added several decades later by the artist’s grandson indicates the identities of the people portrayed: a teacher (the artist himself), his wife and their son, a future student of the Ecole polytechnique. With these clues, the museum pieced together the social ascension – thanks to state school education – of this modest Jewish family from Constantine, a journey that took them from their Algerian home city to Paris then Rouen and finally Drancy.

In conjunction with this exhibition in the Department of Prints and Drawings, the spotlight is on Algeria in the adjoining showcases: notably a basket of requisites for ritual bathing (miqveh) and the hammam, synagogue and study room pictures, portraits and traditional costumes, including a traditional headdress of an Algerian Jewish woman (sarmah).

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Hanging
From Saturday 6 June 2020 until Sunday 31 January 2021
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Exhibition

Tuesday 30 June 2020 – Sunday 2 May 2021

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Location 

Prints and Drawings Department

Permanent collection

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10 € / 7 € / 5 €

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