Camille Aboussouan crossed the century with panache.Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lebanon has lost one of its most distinguished son. Diplomat, writer, lawyer, journalist, columnist with a passion for history and archaeology, generous and erudite bibliophile,

 Camille Aboussouan will be remembered as one of the greatest figures of Lebanese culture. Honoring him in a word for the occasion, the Minister of Culture Gaby Layoun “requested that the new generations look up to this great man who always wore Lebanon in his heart and mind and was well represented.”
camille aboussouan picture
Camille Aboussouan presenting his latest book “From the mountains of Lebanon to the Royal Bastide Fleurance, Memory and memories,” the will of a lifetime

On the path of an exceptional person: He was born August 30, 1919 in Beirut. After studying law at the “Université Saint-Joseph”, he has a career as a lawyer, without forgetting the literature and various cultural activities.

In 1943, he participated in archaeological research in Lebanon and work to consolidate the country’s artistic treasures.

In 1944, he organized with a group of friends, the show “Les Perses d’Eschyles” in the temple of Bacchus in Baalbek, taking himself the role of Coryphaeus, thereby laying the foundations of what would be eight years later the Baalbeck International Festival.

He founded the PEN Club of Lebanon with 24 writers and publicists.

 In 1945, he published his first collection “Your hair in the wind”, which marks a literary refinement. In the same year, he founded the cultural magazine “Les Cahiers de l’Est”, a spokesman of personalities from cultural and French and Lebanese.

The publication is a tremendous success and it is worth the price of the French Academy in 1948. Elected General Secretary of the National Commission for UNESCO in 1953, he regularly represented Lebanon as a member of the delegation to the general or special UNESCO conference until 1972.

It will be for nineteen years the General Secretary of the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO.

 It becomes, then, the bibliophile who owns a valuable collection of books, prints and sculptures dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

  In 1956 the poet published the first French translation of the Prophet of Kahlil Gibran. He founded with friends the “Association for the Protection of sites and old houses in Lebanon” in 1958 and collected 6000 slides of old houses from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.

 Elected curator of the Nicolas Sursock  Museum of Art, he organized the inauguration by Lebanese artists Exhibition in November 1961 and  provided 43 exhibitions including the discovery of the icons of the quadrilateral Arabic inscriptions Syro-Mesopotamian – post-Byzantine art – known since under the name “Melkite icons.”

In 1960, Aboussouan became a member of the Baalbeck Festival Committee, collaborating with the French Theater.

In 1978, he was appointed Ambassador of Lebanon to UNESCO in Paris.

 In 1982, Aboussouan realizes the exhibition “The Book and Lebanon” which took place at UNESCO in Paris.

He has written numerous articles in the Lebanese and Francophone press, dealing with various issues of  art, literature and archaeology.

 Among his generous donations, a portion of his library bequeathed to Robert Mouawad Museum which includes a Koran printed in Hamburg in 1692, a large polyglot Bible, the trip of Lamartine to Beirut, recorded in pencil, not to mention all the literature of the Orientalists travelers…

 And also his exceptional gift of Oriental Archaeology (nearly 1400 pieces) conducted in 2000 at the Agen Museum of Fine Arts, the third largest museum in France, in the field of oriental archaeology after the Louvre and the Museum of Lyon.

Aboussouan started very young to acquire objects on the art market, mainly from Lebanon, Syria and ancient Mesopotamia. This collection marked by the double origin of the donor (French by his mother, a native of Fleurance in the Gers, and Lebanese father), recalls the historical ties between the East and the West; it is now One of the major aspects of the archaeological section of the museum.Alpha

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