In the early 1960s, Van Den reached the pinnacle of his career and was regarded as South Vietnam’s premier artist. His path to success had been long and tortuous. He was born in 1919 in the French colonial time and left his humble village home in the Mekong Delta at an early age to attend a boarding school. Eking out a living as a physical education teacher, with a devouring passion for painting and confident about his talent, he ventured to go to Paris and show his works to the examination board of the city’s world-famous École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He was admitted, at the age of 30, to pursue his only formal art studies. After his highly acclaimed debut exhibition in Paris in 1952, he returned to Saigon and struggled hard before gaining recognition for his novel aesthetic. His success came in the shadow of the Vietnam War, which started massively escalating, shattering his world.