He was the first Burmese artist to go to the Royal College of Art in London in 1921 and developed an academic style under the influence of British artists William Rothenstein and Frank Brangwyn. When he returned home, he played a key role in introducing Western techniques to Burmese artists.
Ba Nyan produced many paintings depicting the landscapes and lifestyles of Burma, but many were bought by the British and lost during the Second World War. Research in 2017 for a commemorative exhibition at the National Museum of Myanmar found only six paintings by him.
The signed 14 x 20in (35 x 51cm) watercolours that were offered at Grand Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) on December 9 depicted views of Buddhist monuments in Burma. The pair had passed by descent from David Hendry, a gentleman living in Calcutta in the 1930s and early 1940s who made several work trips to Burma.
Rare, seemingly unfaded and with tempting estimates of £1000-1500 per picture, the pair drew multiple bidders including a phone bidder from Singapore who was outbid on both lots. The watercolour of an elephant monument sold for £9500 and the Shwedagon Pagoda took £5500.