Vietnamese painting goes under French hammer for $1.3 mln

By Long Nguyen   October 7, 2020 | 06:00 am PT
'Young Girl With Peonies' by Vietnamese artist Le Pho has been sold for €1,16 million ($1.36 million) at an auction held by French auction house Aguttes.

The painting, deemed an exceptional work, was sold after a long bidding battle, Aguttes announced Tuesday. It was offered during the "Asian Painters, Major Works" session, and expected to fetch €500,000 - 800,000 ($587,000 - 940,000).

"Young Girl With Peonies" is a 91x71 cm silk painting estimated to be done in the 1940 - 1945 period, an important time in Le Pho's life as he honed his talent at the Vietnam University of Fine Arts and was endlessly inspired by flowers.

Young Girl With Peonies by Le Pho. Photo courtesy of Aguttes.

"Young Girl With Peonies" by Le Pho. Photo courtesy of Aguttes.

The painting was bought from the Romanet gallery in Paris in 1950 and owned by a family until recently.

"It was hung on one single wall for 70 years, and its bright colors overwhelm us," Aguttes said.

This is the second record set by a Le Pho painting. In May 2019, his "Nue" (Nude) painting fetched HKD10.9 million ($1.4 million), the highest auction price ever for a Vietnamese painting, at Christie’s Hong Kong auction house.

Le Pho (1907-2001) was a prominent Vietnamese painter who carved out a successful career in France. He has thousands of works to his credit. He is the first Vietnamese artist to have had paintings sell for a million dollars in public auctions. His first painting to fetch over $1 million was "Family Life" at Sotheby's Hong Kong auction house in April 2017.

The "Asian Painters, Major Works" session also included works by several other Vietnamese artists including Nam Son, Mai Trung Thu and Vu Cao Dam.

In September, "Hoi Dinh Chem" (Chem Village Festival), a lacquer painting by Nguyen Van Ty, fetched €832,000 ($972,000) at French auction house Drouot.

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