Chen Yanning

Chen Yanning
Chen Yanning

Originally from Guangzhou in China, Chen Yanning studied at the Guangdong Academy of Fine Art. He became a U.S. citizen and now lives and works in New Jersey.

Yanning takes as his primary subject portraits of young women, some formally posed and surrounded by still life objects, other more casually depicted in various activities.

Though the faces in his painting have the look of distinct individuals, I don’t know if they are portraits in the sense of being commissioned, or models posed to create interesting genre subjects. I suspect it’s mostly the latter, although he does take on formal portrait commissions, including members of the English royal family.

His draftsmanship is precise, and at first glance, one might be tempted to think of his rendering style as photorealism; but in those few images of his work online that are relatively large, I see indications that his work is more painterly than first impressions would suggest.

I find his compositions bold, many of them utilizing chiarlscuro, others with softer value contrasts.

As far as I can determine, Chen Yanning does not have a dedicated website, nor can I find a gallery that claims to be his primary representative. The best single selection of images of his work I can find is this Russian art blog. I’ve listed a few other sources below.

Eye Candy for Today: Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate

Madonna of the Pomegranate, Sandro Botticelli
Madonna of the Pomegranate, Sandro Botticelli

Madonna of the Pomegranate, Sandro Botticelli; egg tempera on wood panel, roughly 56 inches (144 cm) in diameter; link is to the file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, which does not appear to have a reproduction of the painting on its website.

15th century Florentine master Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli, is most famous for his large, stunningly beautiful paintings of mythological scenes, particularly The Birth of Venus and La Primavera, but the majority of his oeuvre was of Christian religious subjects.

While his mythological and religious subjects were composed quite differently, one thing I find consistent, and consistently engaging, are Botticelli’s faces.

Stylized, often idealized and at times bearing the hallmarks of actual portraiture, Botticelli’s faces are always entrancing; handled with a grace and subtlety that draws you in for repeated gazing.

In his edges that resolve into darks that are effectively outlines, Botticelli captures the combined visual appeal of rendered form and linear drawing.

In Madonna of the Pomegranate we find the mother and child surrounded by wonderful Botticelli faces, rendered in the painstaking medium of egg tempera.

It was not an unusual subject in Renaissance painting to show the Madonna with the Christ child holding a pomegranate, a precursory symbol of the future Passion and Resurrection.