Some Symbols in Lu Houng Nien’s Paintings


About Artist:

Lu Houng Nien was born in 1914 to a family whose ancestry was from Shanghai after moved to Beijing, the capital city of China , where the Catholic Fu-Jen University was started under the direction of the Divine Word Missionaries ( SVD). It was during his fine arts studies in 1930 and through his contact with some foreign art professors such as Fr. Edmund Van Genechten, SVD, that Lu Houng Nien became a Catholic and was baptized as John.

The paintings of Lu Houng Nien , like those of many Chinese Christian artists, have some significant characteristics that we can now call them " adapted –inculturated ' Gospel narratives. Here are some of the highlights,

1. Cultural-adaptation: The facial expression, the clothing and even the way the Blessed Virgin Mary holds the Child, Jesus are inspired by the Buddhist Goddess, Kwang Yin ( Mother of Compassion and mercy). One art critic, R.P. Etienne Mervielle explained, " It is understandable that during this era, we can call the Chinese Christian arts a cultural-adaptation, because we can find some similarities between Buddhist arts and Christian arts. Many of the Chinese Artists were newly converted to Christianity. Although they were taught the Christian doctrine, they were the pioneers to paint Chinese Christian Arts." ( L'art Chretien en chine Lu Houng Nien, Peintre de la Vierge.)

2. Themes of the paintings: Lu Houng Nien 's paintings were mostly around the themes of the Gospel Infant Narratives of Jesus such as the Annunciation, the Flight to Egypt and the Holy Family.

3. Art technique: Silk painting The silk painting technique is one of the oldest art forms in China. It was very prominent and popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 ) and Qing Dynasty(1644-1912 ). The simplicity of Lu Houng Nien's paintings can be admired in a way: the physiognomy, the body expression and a certain charm, the facial expression of the persons . Below are some of Lu Houng Nien's famous paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

(click on images for bigger display)

An Angel Summons the Shepherds

The Flight to Egypt

Jesus and the Woman at the Well

Jesus Stills the Tempest

Jesus Washes the Feet of the Disciples

The Annunciation

The Birth of Jesus

Our Lady of China

The Virgin and Child


This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Sumtihra Kulkarni , was last modified Monday, 12/03/2012 13:36:58 EST by Sumtihra Kulkarni . Please send any comments to

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