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Saliba Douaihy was born in 1915 in the picturesque town of Ehden, nestled among Lebanon’s tree covered northern mountains.

The Douaihy family was, and still is, a well-established family in northern Lebanon, playing an important economic and social role. But Saliba Douaihy’s upbringing was modest and he was first exposed to painting and art through the churches in his hometown.

The young Douaihy displayed a talent for drawing, copying illustrations from books and magazines at his school. His teachers often reprimanded him for drawing in class and not reading. But his apparent skills and thirst for art compelled his teachers to urge his father to send him to Beirut to study art.

The elder Douaihy had other hopes for his son, but reluctantly agreed. At 14 years old, Saliba Douaihy went to Beirut where his father had arranged for him to apprentice at the well-established painter Habib Srour.

For two years, Saliba worked under the master’s guidance, learning the basic techniques of drawing and painting. He also assisted Srour in his large church murals and at times posed for him as a young Saint or the youthful Christ.

After two years with Srour, the elder Douaihy was convinced that his son had potential to become a serious artist. With help from the local community, he raised the funds to send the 17-year old Saliba to Paris in the fall of 1932 to study at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Saliba had aced the entrance exam, placing second on a test given to several thousand students.

At the Ecole, he studied oil painting under the directorship of Paul Albert Laurence and Louis Roger and fresco painting under Duco de la Haille. After two years, he won the school’s top award and exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français.

In 1936, Saliba graduated and returned to Lebanon, where he opened his own studio and soon became an established and prolific painter.

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E-mail: salibadouaihy@hotmail.com