Vietnamese nude fetches half a million dollars in Christie’s auction

By Long Nguyen   November 27, 2019 | 05:35 am PT
A painting by Mai Trung Thu titled ‘Nu’ (Nude) has sold for HKD3.97 million ($506,621) at an auction held by Christie’s in Hong Kong.

The gouache painting was sold in the "20th Century & Contemporary Art Morning Session" organized by Christie's on November 24.

The final price was higher the expectation of the auction house, which was less than HKD 700,000 ($89,455). It was part of Californian Tuan H. Pham’s collection prior to the auction.

"Nu", 47 centimeters wide and 70 centimeters long, was painted in 1970.

Nu by Mai Trung Thu. Photo by Christies.

"Nu" by Mai Trung Thu. Photo by Christie's.

According to an expert on Vietnamese Art, the painting of Mai Trung Thu is a "translation" of "La Grande Odalisque" of Frech artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1857), which is on display at the Louvre museum in Paris at the moment.

Mai Trung Thu's creation presents an Oriental version of the renowned painting, seen, for instance, in the artist choosing to cover the hip of his model with a piece of cloth.

"From an iconographical point of view, the fan, the jewelry, the turban, are "Vietnamized": the blankets, the bed, the censer, the coffee table, the fan, all these objects are Vietnamese in origin," the British auction house said.

Mai Trung Thu (1906 - 1980) was a Vietnamese-French painter. He graduated from the Indochina College of Fine Arts in Hanoi before living and working mostly in France. His main subjects were women, children and daily life in Vietnam or related to Vietnam.

In May, "Nue" (Nude), a painting by Le Pho fetched $1.4 million, the highest price ever for a Vietnamese painting at a Christie’s session.

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