Vietnamese artwork fetches over $370,000 at French auction

By Hieu Nhan   March 16, 2022 | 01:20 am PT
An ink and color on silk artwork by Tran Tan Loc has been sold for €338,000 (over $370,000) at an event held by French auction house Aguttes.

The 'Jeune Élégante Se Coiffant' (rough translation: A Woman Combing Hair), a 76 x 53 centimeter ink and color on silk painting created in 1932 scored more than twice the price predicted by Aguttes, including taxes, at the "Painters of Asia – Major Pieces" auction on Monday.

"Presumed to be a portrait of his younger brother's wife, 'Jeune Élégante Se Coiffant is the only work known to date that was done by the artist in ink and color on silk - a particular technique taught at the Indochina School of Fine Arts circa 1930," Aguttes wrote on its website.

The lower-left corner of the artwork has the artist's signature and the date. The back of the painting has the label "Au régal des yeux" (A feast for the eyes).

It said the painting belongs to a Vietnamese private collector who bought it in Vietnam before 1950 and took it to France around 1976.

Jeune élégante se coiffant by Tran Tan Loc. Photo courtesy of Aguttes

'Jeune élégante se coiffant' by Tran Tan Loc. Photo courtesy of Aguttes

Loc (1906-1968) was a famous illustrator and advertising painter in Hanoi. He graduated with a degree in Decoration from École Nationale de l’Artisanat in Hanoi.

He was invited to paint Indochina silver coins, the National Emblem of Vietnam and others. The artist worked at Hanoi Fine Arts Company until the end of his life.

Before the auction, 'Jeune Élégante Se Coiffant' caused a stir in March after the auction house made an error, putting Tran Binh Loc instead of Tran Tan Loc as the author.

The error was then discovered by Vietnamese art researchers and the wider community. Aguttes had then rectified the information on the website and social media but kept the expected price of the artwork.

Some people believe Aguttes intentionally made a mistake to raise the price of the painting because the reputation of Tran Binh Loc surpassed that of Tran Tan Loc.

Art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi was surprised that the artwork fetched a high sum at the auction, saying: "It is a good sign that Vietnamese paintings are increasingly gaining ground in the international market."

"However, the auction house needs to have a team to more carefully and honestly appraise work."

The "Painters of Asia – Major Pieces" includes 46 paintings, including many artworks from late Vietnamese painters like Mai Trung Thu, Le Pho, Le Thi Luu, Vu Cao Dam and others.

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