Born in Rabat in 1861, Mohamed Ben Ali R’bati moved to Tangier as a young man.
After a stint in Koranic schools and as an apprentice craftsman at the carpenters, he enters, in 1903, the service of Sir John Lavery, as cook.
A portrait painter for the Crown of England living in the White City, the latter was quick to discover R’bati’s talent as an artist and encouraged him in this direction.
After several years in his service, Ben Ali R’bati followed John Lavery to England where he was exhibited in London in 1916, a historic date for Moroccan painting, the first time it was shown.
After the First World War, he lived in Marseille and returned to Tangier in 1922.
Enrolled as a fireman in the Spanish Tabors from 1925 to 1929, then as a bank guard, he was finally able to devote himself fully to his passion from 1933, when he had a real studio in Riad Soltane.
In 1937, he moved to the route de la Casbah, where he owned a restaurant and an exhibition hall.
He died in Tangier in 1939.
Ben Ali R’bati was the first Moroccan painter to break with the traditional art of miniature painting, calligraphy and decorative arts. In his warm and colorful figurative paintings, he chronicles daily life in Tangier at the beginning of the 20th century.
The painter describes his contemporaries, with refinement and a fraternal look respectful of traditions.
The freedom he has granted himself does not separate him from a culture to which he remains deeply attached, paying him a vibrant tribute through each of his works.