(December 19, 1919 – January 14, 2007)


 was an Egyptian artist and scholar, who specialized in Coptic art and founded its contemporary school.

Fanous was born in Al-Minya Governorate and moved to Cairo, the Capital to earn his degree from The Faculty of Applied Arts, now part of Helwan University in Egypt, in 1941. He also a diploma in teaching in 1943. Fanous was one of the first students of the Institute of Coptic Studies founded in 1954 and he obtained his doctorate in 1958 . His two-year study grant in the Louvre in the mid- 1960s was a turning point in his career. He took the opportunity, while in France, to study icon painting under L←onid Ouspensky, under whose patronage he developed a passion both as artist and theologian. This would lead, eventually, to his developing a style that was to become the new face of Coptic iconography in the mid-20th century [1] [2].

Fanous chaired the Coptic Art department at the Institute of Coptic Studies in Cairo, and he has trained a number of other Coptic artists from outside Egypt.


Political changes

In the years following the 1952 revolution. As wealthy patrons of the arts disappeared from Egypt's hitherto cosmopolitan art world they were replaced by the state, and the career of Fanous took off from the struggles and experiences of his time. That is to say, he became more keenly aware of his Egyptian heritage. He was proud of everything that comes from Al-Minya since the time of Akhnaten, who built his city in this area [3]. .


Modern Coptic iconography

For centuries, before painters like Isaac Fanous, the Coptic Orthodox church had its own style, which is recognized as The Coptic style. [4] Owing to the influence of the European culture in the nineteenth Century there are many churches in Egypt bearing Icons that simulate the European (Western) Christianity Iconography style.

Fanous's contemporary school of icon painting came about as part of a general renaissance of Coptic culture, which began during the patriarchate of Pope Cyril VI (1959-1971).[3].

He capitalized on the already established Coptic style which could be seen in historic Coptic Churches, however he introduced his own style which he developed over the years .

The style of his painting is called the Modern Coptic style and as he became a pioneer in this field. Nowadays, Fanous is considered the father of modern Coptic icon painting and the initiator of the modern renaissance in Coptic art


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