Skip to main content

Wan Lan, Xini, Shen Jiawei and Billy, 2010

Greg Weight

inkjet print (frame: 80.0 cm x 88.0 cm depth 3.3 cm)

Shen Jiawei (b. 1948), painter, was born in China, where he grew up during the Cultural Revolution and began to gain recognition as an artist in the mid-1970s. Largely self-taught at first, when he was able to undertake formal art training in Beijing he was significantly influenced by his teacher, the famous portraitist Shangyi. He came to specialise in history paintings, and his Standing Guard for our Great Motherland (1974) was one of the best-known images in Mao’s China in the late 1970s. Shen moved to Australia in 1989, to be joined much later by his wife Lan and their daughter, Xini, whom Shen first saw as a toddler in Sydney. From working as a pavement portraitist at Darling Harbour, he built a full-time painting practice. Shen’s painting of Tom Hughes was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 2005 and he was commissioned to paint Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for the Gallery the same year. He painted the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patron, L Gordon Darling AC CMG in 2006; John Howard for Parliament House, Canberra in 2010; and Pope Francis for the Vatican in 2014. In 2016 he won the Gallipoli Art Prize.

Greg Weight’s photograph of Shen with Lan, Xini, and their dog Billy was taken in Shen’s studio in Bundeena, New South Wales. Behind the artist is a typically playful self-portrait, in which he appears as an Imperial court painter of yesteryear, painting Princess Mary.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Accession number: 2012.111

Currently on display: Gallery Seven (Ian Potter Gallery)

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 Finalist

Artist and subject

Greg Weight (age 64 in 2010)

Wang Lan

Jiawei Shen (age 62 in 2010)


© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.