Le Pho’s painting fetches $2.37M at auction

By Hieu Nhan   April 6, 2023 | 06:10 pm PT
The painting “La famile dans le jardin” by late artist Le Pho has sold for US$2.37 million at an auction at Sotheby's Hong Kong auction house.

It went under the hammer Wednesday as part of Sotheby's 50th Anniversary Contemporary Evening Auction to celebrate the American auction house’s 50th year in the Asian market with 43 works by renowned artists from around the world.

"La famile dans le jardin" (Family in the Garden), done on silk, depicts a woman in a white dress sitting and sewing on a cot in the middle of a garden. Beside her, a child is reading a book. In the background are three people wearing traditional costumes and busy doing things.

The painting was done around 1938. It is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Pho’s son.

Le Phos painting La famile dans le jardin. Photo by Sothebys

Le Pho's painting "La famile dans le jardin". Photo by Sotheby's

The buyer was an anonymous collector who bid over phone.

The painting was once auctioned in 1999 by British house Christie's in Singapore.

Collector Do Viet Tuan, who watched the auction online said the price of $2.37 million was not too surprising.

"This is the only silk painting that Le Pho created after graduating from the Indochina College of Fine Arts until his death. This large-sized painting is well preserved and in great condition after 85 years, and so it can easily go past the $1-million mark."

Sotheby’s said the painting epitomized Pho's technical skill and vivid sense of imagination.

"’La famille dans le jardin’ belongs to the pinnacle of Le Pho's oeuvre as well as the overarching stylistic epoch of Vietnamese modernism. This striking work is one of the finest, most elaborate known compositions by the artist painted on the delicate and demanding surface of silk."

Sotheby’s added that it became the second most expensive Vietnamese work ever after "Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong" (Portrait of Ms. Phuong) by Mai Trung Thu, which was sold for $3.1 million.

La famille dans le jardin on display at the auction house. Photo by Sothebys

"La famille dans le jardin" on display at the auction house. Photo by Sotheby's

But Pho has the most million-dollar paintings -- six – of any Vietnamese artist.

His previous auctioned painting "Figures in the Garden," fetched $2.28 million in 2022.

Pho was born in Hanoi in 1907 and moved to France in 1937 and lived there until his death in 2001. He was a prominent artist who carved out a long and successful career, creating thousands of works.
He and Vu Cao Dam, Le Thi Luu and Mai Trung Thu are considered the big four artists of the golden age of Vietnamese modern art.

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