The development of modern Western painting in China was diversified, with a few trends arisen from various geographical regions. The first group consists the local artists in Taiwan and Hong Kong led by Chen Chengpo and Liao Chi Ch'un. The second group include the artists resided in China who studied aboard during 20s and 30s, bringing back with new ideas on Western painting when they returned to the country. After 1949, they still continued to stay in China. Lin Fengmian, Yan Wenliang and Wu Dayu are representative of these artists. The third group refers to those artists who were originated from China but were expatriated for a long period. They found a new land for themselves in the Western art scene, like Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun in Paris, Yun Gee and George Chann in America. George Chann, also known as Chan Yinpi, was born in 1913 in China. At his young age, he followed his father to migrate to the United States. He received full scholarship and was educated in the famous Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where he received a comprehensive education in Western arts. He already made his name in America during 1940s. During 1942-1946, he had held more than ten solo exhibitions in different venues in Los Angeles and San Francisco, including Los Angeles County Museum, where he became the first Chinese national to exhibit there. His works were also introduced and featured on nationwide periodicals such as Art Digest Magazine, Art News, and Life Magazine. His art was permanently exhibited in James Vigeveno Gallery along with other famous American and European artists such as Chagall and Van Gogh.
The three paintings offered in this day auction are landscape and figure paintings painted before the 1940s, manifesting Chann's artistic style and creative character in that period. These works were widely exhibited; they reflect the artist's achievements in the American art field in the early years, as well as the diversified development of American art outside abstractionism. Boats at Dock employs Post-Impressionist colours and brushstrokes, expressing one of the most fundamental characteristic of Chen's early works. On the foreground, water gently ripples in variegated colours. His smooth brushwork makes turn to create a scene with morning light and glittering water. Chann painted changing layers of blue to reflect clouds, fog, and bright light, this sky of light strangely resembles that of sunset as well as sunrise; his portrayal embraces Impressionism and captures the landscape in vivid and energetic colours. The use of colour in Still life with Fruit is bright and resplendent, where green and red strong contrasts with each other. Comparing with Boat at Dock, it shows the artist's preference of colour use during this period. In the 1940s, the artist displayed an affection of figure drawings. He mentioned in an interview in 1981, "In the early years of learning Western painting, I like depicting the poor, the elderly and children". One can easily see that his works embody a great sense of humanistic spirit and vitality. Nude in the Studio is a masterpiece in this respect. There is a strong sense of Classicism reflected in the composition and use of colour in this painting. The artist deliberately uses dark yellowish green curtain as background, to intensify the warm skin tone of the nude. The strong contrast of brightness also amplifies the dramatic light effect and hence enhances the beauty of the nude's polished and refined skin. The treatment of light and colour contrast reflects the Classical traditions of Western oil paintings. The figure in the painting is quietly seated, with her hands poised but shyly on her knees, depicting a sense of elegance and serenity from the oriental traditions which subtly reveals the cultural roots of George Chann.