This Week in Armenian History

Death of Tigrane Polat (February 17th, 1950)

One of the finest engravers of France of his time, Tigrane Polat (or Polad) was born on March 23, 1874, in Alexandria, Egypt. He was the godchild of Nubar Pasha (Nubar Nubarian, 18251899), three times Prime Minister of Egypt. He studied at the Jesuit school in Alexandria.  

He had shown much interest in drawing since his childhood. He arrived in France in 1891 and settled in Paris, where he attended the Lycée Michelet. Upon graduation, he entered law school, but he did not defend his doctoral dissertation. Instead, against his father’s advice, he abandoned university and entered the renowned Académie Julian, a private school of painting and sculpture. He studied there with painter Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) and engraver Benjamin-Constant (1845-1902). 

Afterwards, Polat married a Polish young lady named Justine and had a daughter named Genevieve (“Wanda”), who they raised in Charpont, an agricultural commune near Chartres, where they settled in 1910. They later returned to Paris.  

Polat was well-regarded for his delicate etchings and light touch. He illustrated close to twenty works of bibliophiles, thanks to collectors like Henri Vever and the Société de Saint-Eloy. His illustrations also appeared in books by Anatole France and Paul Valery, the Georgics of Virgil and the Fables of Lafontaine. He participated in the annual exhibitions of the Society of Painters and Engravers of France and earned the first prize twice. He joined the Armenian Artistic Circle “Ani” at its inception in 1926 and participated the next year in its first exhibition with more than 30 works. He was elected member of the jury for the Salon of French Painters. 

During World War II, Polat moved back to Charpont, where he passed away on February 17, 1950. Some of his works are at the National Gallery of Armenia.