Jewad Selim is considered to be the founder of modern art in Iraq. Though born in Ankara in 1921, he belonged to a family originally from Mosul. He was introduced to painting by his father, Haj Mohammad Selim, an officer in the Ottoman military who had been trained in landscape painting at the Military Academy in Istanbul. In 1938 Selim received a government scholarship to study in Paris. When Germany invaded France in 1939, he relocated to Rome, until he was finally forced to return to Baghdad in 1940. During the war, Selim worked at the Directorate of Antiquities, continuing to produce work that he showed at the many exhibitions held at that time in Baghdad. From 1946 to 1949 he studied sculpture at the Slade School in London.