Portrait Painter in Hanoi Old Quarter

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Portrait Painter in Hanoi Old Quarter
Portrait Painter in Hanoi Old Quarter

In a small house less than 1 meter wide on Hang Duong street, Tran Thinh, 57, has been working as a portrait painter for more than 40 years. (Photos of Hanoi)


Despite the development of digital technology, Thinh still draws portraits based on photos.


Thinh has earned money from this job since he was 14 years old. He is the third son of Mr. Si Nghe, a very famous 1970s portrait painter. All of his four sons can draw, but only Thinh considers it his career.


Thinh worries that his job will be lost. Twenty-five years after marriage, he had a daughter, who is only seven. I determined to transfer this job to my daughter, he remarked.


Sometimes Thinh has to do a portrait by looking at photos of their relatives.


Technological advances have affected his job and the number of clients has dropped dramatically. Many portrait painters have changed jobs, but Thinh considers this his life-time career.


He noted that people have returned to portrait painting instead of restoring old photos by modern technology. They said that photos recovered by computers are emotionless. Moreover, photoshop technicians are not painters, Thinh maintained.
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Many foreigners have become Thinh clients. He said many countries don’t have portrait paintings, so foreign visitors can take portraits home as gifts for their relatives.


Tran Thinh portrait.


Thinh has drawn a dozen of thousands of portraits in his small room. It takes him from 2-3 days for one portrait.


He said this job requires patience and details.


A decade ago, there were over ten families on Hang Dao and Hang Duong streets doing this job, but now there are few portrait shops.

Source: Portrait Painter in Hanoi Old Quarter