20th century Vietnamese art scores big under the hammer

By Long Nguyen   October 4, 2021 | 08:21 am GMT+7
French auction house Aguettes has sold 204 artworks related to Vietnam, including those created by domestic artists, for high prices.

The "Painting & Works of Art from Vietnam" auction on Sept. 30 was dedicated to artists who came from Asia to France at the beginning of the 20th century, especially those from the Indochina School of Fine Arts like Mai Trung Thu, Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam, and Luong Xuan Nhi.

Fetching the highest price at auction was "Le Tricot" (Knitting) by Luong Xuan Nhi (1914 - 2006), sold for €756, 440 ($877,012). The painting, 65.5 x 40.5 centimeters, depicts a young woman sitting on her knees, barefoot, peacefully knitting.

Le Tricot (Knitting) by Luong Xuan Nhi. Photo courtesy of Aguettes

"Le Tricot" (Knitting) by Luong Xuan Nhi. Photo courtesy of Aguettes

"The elegance of her ao dai, the gold necklace and her delicate hairstyle bear witness to her social status," the auction house stated, adding her modest smile is similar to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Another painting to fetch a high price was "La Cérémonie Du Thé" (Tea Ceremony) by Mai Trung Thu, illustrating a family enjoying tea, with a teapot and small cups, and a tea boat on the stove.

The painting, 55.8 x 55.8 centimeters, went for €718,160 ($832,631).

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 the country.

La Cérémonie Du Thé (Tea Ceremony) by Mai Trung Thu. Photo courtesy of Aguettes

"La Cérémonie Du Thé" (Tea Ceremony) by Mai Trung Thu. Photo courtesy of Aguettes

The auction also featured Nguyen Tuong Tam’s wooden painting "La Tonkinoise et La Vieille Sage" (The Tonkinese and The Old Sage), a rare artwork of Tam to go under the hammer. The artist (1906 - 1963) was admitted to the Indochina School of Fine Arts in 1925 and spent only two years there. The painting was created during his final year, bearing the signature of the school director, Victor Tardieu.

"La Tonkinoise et La Vieille Sage" was sold for €10,400 ($12,057).

La Tonkinoise et La Vieille Sage (The Tonkinese and The Old Sage) by Nguyen Tuong Tam. Photo courtesy of Aguettes

"La Tonkinoise et La Vieille Sage" (The Tonkinese and The Old Sage) by Nguyen Tuong Tam. Photo courtesy of Aguettes

Many Vietnamese artworks of the 20th century have been auctioned globally in the last few years. In April, Mai Trung Thu’s "Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong" smashed the nation’s auction record with a $3.1 million bid.

 
 
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