Painter, muralist, dramatist and poet Samuel Fyzee-Rahamin was born Samuel Rahamin Samuel to a Jewish family belonging to India’s Bene Israel community in Poona (now Pune), India on 19 December 1880. He studied at the School of Art in Bombay, and then, on a scholarship in London at the Slade School of Fine Art, and the Royal Academy under John S. Sargent and Solomon J. Solomon. In 1906 he exhibited a naturalistic portrait (no. 765 The Derelict) at the RA in this style but after returning to India as art advisor to the Maharaja of Baroda in 1908, he abandoned naturalism in favour of the two-dimensional figuration traditionally associated with Rajput painting, a strand of the Bengal school. He exhibited critically acclaimed paintings in the latter style at London galleries including the Goupil (1914), Arthur Tooth’s (1925) and the Arlington Galleries (1935), as well as the Manchester City Art Gallery (1930). In 1924 his work was included in the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley and the following year two of his Ragmala paintings were acquired by Tate (one gifted by the Jewish businessman Victor Sassoon). In the 1930s, he helped the Victoria & Albert Museum reorganise its collection of Indian art and submitted a shortlisted proposal for a mural for India House in Aldwych. In 1926 as Samuel Fyzee-Rahamin he published an article ‘On Indian Art and Burne-Jones’, inspired by his commission as a muralist for the Delhi Imperial Secretariat and highlighting the difficulties of cultural exchanges under the auspices of the British Empire.
In the 1930s two of his plays were staged in London, choreographed by his wife, Atiya Fyzee-Rahamin, an important author, performer and patron of the arts, who belonged to a prominent Muslim family in Bombay. Prior to their marriage in 1912, Samuel converted to Islam and both he and Atiya unusually took each other’s family names. In 1914 Samuel Fyzee-Rahamin illustrated Atiya Fyzee-Rahamin’s book ‘Indian Music’, published by the Goupil Gallery to coincide with Samuel’s exhibition (later published in 1925 by Luzac & Co under the title ‘The Music of India’). In 1948, the Fyzee-Rahamins moved to Karachi, Pakistan following the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Samuel Fyzee-Rahamin died in Karachi, Pakistan on 1 January 1964. His work is held in UK collections including the Ben Uri Collection, Manchester City Art Gallery and Tate. He presented a collection of his own paintings and other artworks to the Aiwan-e-Riffat Museum in Karachi, now housed in a separate building as the Fyzee Rehamin Art Gallery.