Teng-Hiok Chiu

Teng-Hiok Chiu

The Universal Language of Art

“Since I used to play amidst the beautiful temples and pine trees or on the sandy beach, I have wanted to appreciate the best in nature and to be able to help everyone else to do so." 

“Since I used to play amidst the beautiful temples and pine trees or on the sandy beach, I have wanted to appreciate the best in nature and to be able to help everyone else to do so. As I go forward I realize increasingly that it is not a matter of East or West, someday there will be Art from a New World Civilization, the creation of which, as a painter, I wish to contribute to. Art is a universal language that speaks to every human heart.” - Teng Chiu, "A Chinese Painter's Exhibition in Europe"

Born in Xiamen, Fujian Provence in 1903 to a prestigious family, Teng-Hiok Chiu (Zhou Tingxu; also known as Teng Chiu, 1903–1972) had the opportunity to study abroad from a young age. By 1924 he had enrolled in the University of London, and in 1925 studied Western painting under the tutelage of Sir George Clausen, Sir Walter Russell and Charles Sims at the Royal Academy Schools. He became the first foreigner to be granted membership of the Royal Society of British Artists.


Teng-Hiok Chiu

signed and dated (lower left), oil on canvas | 49cm x 62.5cm (19.25in x 24.6in) | Sold for £27,500 incl premium


Chiu also trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Paris, but he reached the turning point in his career when working alongside his mentor Laurence Binyon, a renowned Oriental scholar, in the British Museum in 1930. Working together they analysed many significant Chinese calligraphic works and paintings and it was from this point onwards that Chiu fused Eastern and Western artistic ideas and philosophy, to produce works with Chinese sensibilities and Western technique.

From 1930 Chiu travelled extensively through Europe, Africa and Asia, including his homeland Xiamen in China. During this trip Teng Hiok Chiu depicted the lakes and mountains of his native land, and important architecture and monuments including this significant work by Chiu of the Great Wall. It is probable that this is the work that was exhibited in his one-man show at The Fine Art Society in London from 18 November to 4 December 1936 as No. 37. In the preface to the catalogue Binyon wrote:

“Mr. Chiu has travelled over many parts of the world, in the East and in the West, and has developed an eclectic style, in which it seems to me that through all the mastered technique of Western oil-painting the original Chinese element becomes more apparent than in the pictures shown six years ago […] Mr. Chiu, […] like so many Oriental painters who practice the Western style, found it a heavy and unpleasing means of expression: he has subdued it to a lightness of handling and felicities of colour natural to his gift.” (See T. H. Chiu, An Exhibition of Paintings by Teng H. Chiu, A.R.B.A. (London: Fine Art Society, 1936); ‘A Chinese Oil Painter’, The Times, 18 November 1936, p. 12.)

This work commemorates the shared experience of Binyon and Chiu in China, and can be considered a significant work in the development of Chiu’s oeuvre.



Auction Information


MODERN MADE: Modern Art & Post-War Design

30th April 2021 | London


View the auction results ⇒



Modern British Art


Lyon & Turnbull are delighted to offer several auctions a year across the UK featuring to Modern British painting, sculpture, prints and drawings - including MODERN MADE in London. These Modern British art auctions feature works from the likes of Walter Sickert and the Camden Town Group to Terry Frost and the St Ives School, we also handle selected works by all of 20th century Europe’s major figures and movements.

This area continues to lead the UK art market and is going from strength to strength. Success for our clients hinges on our ability to offer a level of focused marketing effort that our competitors don’t, notably touring highlights of our sales round the country to the nation’s art capitals of London and Edinburgh.


Learn more about the department ⇒



Recent Articles