National Artist Ismail Shammout (1930-2006)

An art historian and artist, Ismail Shammout chronicled the dispossession of the Palestinians through art.  He painted with first-hand knowledge of being a refugee and having been forcibly expelled on July 12, 1948 from the agricultural town of Lydda by Israeli soldiers.  He and his family eventually moved to the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza where Shammout volunteered as an art teacher.  After being hired officially as an art instructor, he took his savings of $30 and went to Cairo (Egypt) and pursued his dream of being a painter.

Active in the Palestinian struggle for freedom, he was named as the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Director of Arts and National Culture in 1965. He also held the position of Secretary General of the Union of Palestinian Artists and became Secretary General of the Union of Arab artists in 1969.

Considered Palestine’s national artist for his devotion to capturing Palestinian history through his paintings, he and his wife artist Tamam al Akhal began Palestine: The Exodus and the Odyssey, a series of mural-like paintings in 1997.  The following year, Shammout returned to Lydda (now the Israeli city of Lod) to see his family’s home after 50 years.

To see Shammout’s collection of selected paintings, please see:

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