Lyon & Turnbull

Cherished Gifts | Chen Wen Hsi

Error message

User warning: The following module is missing from the file system: custom_homepage. For information about how to fix this, see the documentation page. in _drupal_trigger_error_with_delayed_logging() (line 1143 of /home/stagingl/public_html/includes/

Two highlight lots in our forthcoming Fine Asian Works of Art auction in London will be a selection of paintings with a remarkable history by the famous 20th century Singaporean artist Chen Wen Hsi (1906-1991).  

Chen Wen Hsi is one of Singapore’s most beloved artists, a part of the pioneering first generation of Singaporean artists that helped create and define the Nanyang style of painting.

Dr Ling Zhu, Specialist in Asian Works of Art said “He was proficient in both traditional Chinese ink painting and Western oil painting. His style of painting was highly grounded in tradition and at the same time heavily borrowed from Western ideas and concepts. After his passing in 1991 his works have continued to be highly sought after, fetching high prices in various auctions across the world.” The work titled ‘Pasar (Market)’ created in 1950 still holds the record at $1.4M having sold in Hong Kong in 2013.

Chen Wen Hsi
Lot 91
CHEN WEN HSI (1906-1991) 

ink and colour on paper, depicting two magpies perched upon a flowering white magnolia tree,
signed 'Wen Xi Zhi Mo' (Wen Hsi's finger painting', with one seal of the artist, framed and glazed 
40x30cm (sight) 
£2,000-3,000 + fees 

Chen Wen Hsi was born in Baigong in Guangdong province, China in 1906. In 1948, at the age of 19, his decision to become a professional painter caused a head-on clash with his uncle and guardian so he left for Singapore.

In the tradition of Chinese classical art, Chen Wen Hsi paints landscapes, flowers and animals, including Gibbons, squirrels, carp, cranes, chickens and sparrows.  He has become known as one of the world's most talented finger painters - an ancient Chinese art, done with the side of the thumb, thumbnail and tip of the index finger, which only masters of the Chinese brush dare attempt. Thought of as the culmination of art because no material tool interposes between the artistic impulse and its expression.


Lot 92 (one of two)
CHEN WEN HSI (1906-1991) 

ink and colour on paper, both unsigned, the first depicting four shrimps amongst lotus leaves, 38x27.5cm (sight);
the second depicting two red fish amid aquatic plants, 25x18cm (sight) (2) 
£400-600 + fees

Chen’s works have been featured on Singapore stamps, commemorative ingots as well as EZ-link cards and currency. The gibbons in his painting “Two Gibbons Amidst Vines” appear on the reverse side of the S$50 banknote in the portrait series of the Singapore currency.

The three paintings on offer in our 08 November Fine Asian Works of Art auction were given to the vendor, Mrs Valerie Stevenson, a painter and art teacher who studied Chinese painting with Chen Wen Hsi in 1975 whilst living in Singapore, attending a painting class given by the artist at his home.  

Lot 92 (one of two)
CHEN WEN HSI (1906-1991) 

ink and colour on paper, both unsigned, the first depicting four shrimps amongst lotus leaves, 38x27.5cm (sight);
the second depicting two red fish amid aquatic plants, 25x18cm (sight) (2) 
£400-600 + fees

Mrs Stevenson recalls meeting the artist “I was fortunate enough to be one of Chen Wen Hsi’s students. I had moved to Singapore with my husband and wanted to learn the art of finger painting. I continually knocked on his door and happily for me after a number of refusals, he finally took me in. I spent many happy hours watching the master at work, he had little English and I had little Chinese, but we got along famously. He often gave away the paintings to his students as presents.” She continued, “I am sorry to see them go, but I have decided it is time for someone else to look after them, I hope they will cherish them as much as I have.”

The two lots are accompanied by a newspaper clippings from The Sunday Nation, dated 31st  August 1975, which features a photograph of Chen Wen Hsi with the present painting, surrounded by his Western and Chinese students. Mrs Stevenson can be seen in the picture.


Fine Asian Works of Art Auction
08 November 2017 at 5pm


05 - 08 November at 22 Connaught Street, London, W2 2SF


08 November, 5pm, at The Hellenic Centre, Paddington St, :London

View the Full Catalogue Online

Chen Wen Hsi


Ling Zhu

0131 557 8844


Published: 2 November 2017

Left Frame border
iPad and iPhone showing FLT App

A World of Art at your Fingertips

Catalogue App now available for iPad and iPhone

Download the FLT App via the app store
Right Frame border