Painter Nguyen Phan Chanh

Painter Nguyen Phan Chanh is an influential artist known for his exquisite silk paintings depicting the lives of Vietnamese peasants, particularly women and children. Born on July 21, 1892, in Ha Tinh, he left a significant legacy in the world of art.

Discovering the Art of Silk Painting

Nguyen Phan Chanh’s talent for painting blossomed at an early age. In 1929, while studying at the Indochina Fine Arts College, he participated in the Indochina Post stamp drawing contest and won first prize with his remarkable depiction of a farmer planting rice. The prize money he received was a substantial sum that could buy more than three tons of rice at the time.

Gaining International Recognition

After exhibiting his works in Paris in 1931, Nguyen Phan Chanh’s silk paintings became highly sought after by Western art collectors. His ability to create finished artworks that garnered significant attention and fetched high prices was a testament to his talent and dedication. His bravery and noble character also played a part in his success.

The Artistry of Silk Painting

Nguyen Phan Chanh is credited with revolutionizing silk painting techniques in Vietnam. While silk painting had existed in the country since the Le Dynasty, it was during Nguyen Phan Chanh’s time that it truly gained popularity. His artworks exude lightness, flight, warmth, and extreme elegance. The half-real, half-abstract spaces he created within his paintings captivate viewers, making them feel “lost” in the enchanting world he depicts.

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A Life of Contribution

Beyond his own achievements, Nguyen Phan Chanh also played a crucial role in the art community. He taught Fine Art at various schools, including the Buoi School and Hanoi University of Fine Arts, where he nurtured the talents of numerous aspiring Vietnamese painters. Throughout his prolific career, he produced over 170 works of art, a record number exhibited at the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts.

Some of Nguyen Phan Chanh’s Remarkable Works

Little Sister Feeds the Birds
“The Bird’s Baby” (Enfant à l’oiseau) 1931. 65x50cm. At Christie’s Hong Kong auction on May 27, 2018, it fetched HKD 6.7 million (~VND 20 billion).

Snail Seller
“Snail Seller” (The Seller of Ôc) in 1929. 88×65.5cm. At Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, it fetched HKD 4.66 million (more than VND 13.5 billion).

The Dyers
“Thợ nhuộm” (The Dyers) 1931. At Christie’s Hong Kong auction on May 24, 2021, the price was USD 563,000 (~VND 12.9 billion).

Rice Seller
“Rice Seller” (The Rice Merchant) 1932. At auction Christie’s Hong Kong reached 3.03 million HKD (more than 8 billion VND).

The Harvest Girl
“The Harvest Girl”

Playing Umbrellas to Eat Tangerines
“Playing Umbrellas to Eat Tangerines” in 1931

Hau Dong
“Hau Dong” in 1931

The Girl Who Sings for Miles
“The Girl Who Sings for Miles”

The Troubadour
“The Troubadour” in 1929

Successful Day Meal
“Successful Day Meal”


Kindergarten Class
“Kindergarten Class”

Remembering the Artist

Nguyen Phan Chanh’s contributions to Vietnamese art are immeasurable, and his impact will forever be felt. His artistic journey and the beautiful silk paintings he left behind serve as a testament to his incredible skill and dedication. To learn more about Caravansarai and its commitment to promoting art and culture, visit the Caravansarai website.

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  • Nguyen Phan Chanh next to the image "Playing the umbrella to eat tangerine"
  • Painter Phan Chanh
  • Painter Phan Chanh