Introducing Chen Yanning

Royal Portrait Artist | Contemporary Chinese Painter

We were privileged to offer for sale a collection of three paintings by artist Chen Yanning (B. 1945) in our Fine Asian Works of Art auction on 16 June 2015. We are one of the few auction houses outside of Hong Kong and China to offer works by this particular artist.

The paintings have come locally from Susan and Michael Gassaway, owners of the Syllavethy Gallery, Aberdeenshire, who have a fascinating history with Chen Yanning. They first met Chen Yanning on a trip to China in 1984, when he was Head of the Guangdong Institute of Fine Art. To reciprocate his hospitality, Susan and Michael invited Yanning to visit the UK to view some of the Old Masters of Western Art that he had only seen in books back in China.

Two years later, Yanning arrived in Aberdeen and together with Susan and Michael, he visited the museums in Scotland and London. Yanning made the museum attendants nervous as he wanted to get up close to study the thickness of paint on his favourite masterpieces. He, Susan and Michael communicated by using sign language and drawing sketches and quickly established a great friendship.


yanning stilt house
LOT 538 | CHEN YANNING (b.1945)



Yanning was invited to visit the US in the Eighties. When he decided to remain there, Susan and Michael offered to support him by finding portrait commissions for him in the UK. With hard work they amassed a fine collection of portrait commissions from a very wide variety of people, from those who scraped together the money because they so admired Yanning’s talent, to dignitaries including the Lord Mayor of London, Richard Branson, all the Body Shop family and the Royal Family including the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne. Yanning’s portrait of the Queen was subsequently used by Royal Mail for the Jubilee Year stamp.

Susan made all the arrangements for portrait sittings, from booking flights, to hotels and sittings, often several in different parts of the UK during one trip. She accompanied Yanning as the driver and Jill-of-all fixer. During the sessions, Susan would chat to the sitters placing herself in their direct line of their vision so that they moved as little as possible and Yanning could concentrate on his work. This is a very exceptional friendship going far beyond a mere business association.

During his career, Yanning's paintings have been acquired by major museums including the Chinese National Gallery, the Museum of Chinese History and the West Australian National Gallery and elsewhere around the world. His paintings have also been selected for the Chinese National Art Exhibition, the Paris Salon, and others around the world including Australia, Japan, Canada and Brazil.

Yanning’s exposure to Eastern and Western influence has come to define his unique style and accomplishment, which continues to achieve a broad appeal; this collection of paintings (as pictured) is anticipated to spark interest amongst Chinese contemporary art collectors and galleries around the globe.



CHEN YANNING (B. 1945) SERENITY oil on canvas

LOT 537 | CHEN YANNING (b.1945)



LOT 539 | CHEN YANNING (b.1945)





Fine Asian Works of Art | Chinese & South-East Asian Works of Art 16 Jun 2015 | 10AM



Crosshall Manor, St Neots, Cambridgeshire PE19 7GB



Lee Young |
Sara Pierdominici |
Ling Zhu |


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