U San Lwin

U San Lwin was a famous portraitist. He was regarded by other great artists as the creator of a new style in oil painting. The figures in his paintings are very smooth and lithe, and are captivating and intriguing in an original and extraordinary way.


Soon after the country declared its independence, U San Lwin went to London and studied at the Goldsmith Art Institute for two years. Before that, in 1935, he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study art at Columbia University in the United States. He excelled in painting images of the Buddha, so he was nicknamed “Buddha-San Lwin”. During 1933-34, he served as an art lecturer at the Yangon Teacher’ Training Collage. In 1939, he served as a headmaster at the State Arts School. Under the Japanese regime, he served as a lecturer together with U Ba Kyi at the Art Institute. In 1949, the title of “Wanakyawhtin” was conferred on him.


U San Lwin had great skill in painting pagodas (as well as Buddhas). In his paintings, he used light sparingly and his strong colour scheme was extraordinary. He has been likened to the world-famous artist, Monet. In the painting “Shwedagon Pagoda Platform,” pilgrims and flower offerers in the shade are contrasted to those in the light. His paintings reveal his skillful application of light and shade, as well as the use of colour in perspective, colour gradation and tonal gradation in the dark. He produced many paintings of Shwedagon pagoda platform.