Monday, 11/03/2024 14:12

Vietnamese painting sells for €828,420 at Aguttes' auction

En Plein Air (Outdoors) by Mai Trung Thứ (1906-1980) is sold for €828,420.

HÀ NỘI A painting by Mai Trung Thứ (1906-1980), one of the most prominent artists in Vietnamese history, has fetched the highest bid in the Asian Painters auction titled Modern Vietnamese Art by Aguttes - €828,420 (US$970,000).

Created in the early 1940s, En Plein Air (Outdoors) depicts two women, with one absorbed in her reading while the other seemingly lost in her dreams. They are dressed in áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress) that highlights their graceful curves and slender waists. With their hair delicately pulled up in buns and their lips covered in red makeup, these two women are exquisitely elegant and refined.

According to Aguttes, the softness allowed by the successive washings of colours brings a refined aspect that can be observed in En plein air.

“Remaining faithful to one of his favourite themes, Mai Trung Thứ demonstrates that beyond his perfect mastery of the technique, he also knows how to skilfully mix references while offering an ideal vision of Vietnamese culture,” wrote the auction house on their website.  

Portrait de Madame Nguyen Nguyet Nga (Portrait of Madame Nguyen Nguyet Nga) by Mai Trung Thứ

Another painting by Thứ, Portrait de Madame Nguyen Nguyet Nga (Portrait of Madame Nguyen Nguyet Nga) ranked second, changed hands for €413,720. The work was painted in 1950.

In the description, the auction house says the painting is a testament to the beauty and richness of a distinctive style that combines Western and Vietnamese influences, gracefully capturing everyday life and human emotions. 

Femme Aux Oeillets (Woman with Carnations) by Lê Phổ

The third highest value went to Femme Aux Oeillets (Woman with Carnations) by Lê Phổ that was sold for €407,340. The artist drew a girl sitting on a chair, holding a flower branch in one hand, with a thoughtful expression on her face. According to Aguttes, this work faithfully reflects the artist’s delicate and poetic style. 

Jeune Femme Au Tricot (Young Woman is Knitting) by Lương Xuân Nhị

Other paintings sold for high prices include Jeune Femme Au Tricot (Young Woman is Knitting) by Lương Xuân Nhị, Marguerite Au Jardin Jouant Avec Les Poussins (Marguerite is Playing with the Chicks) by Vũ Cao Đàm, Fleurs (Flowers) by Lê Phổ, Zither – Erhu by Mai Trung Thứ, Femmes Tissant Le Rotin (Women Weaving Rattan) by Nguyễn Phan Chánh, and Les Chrysanthèmes (Chrysanthemums) by Vũ Cao Đàm. These works have been sold from €164,000-311,640.

Mai Trung Thứ was born in 1906 near the northern city of Hải Phòng. He was one of the first artists to graduate from the Fine Arts College of Indochina, or Ecole des Beaux-Art de l'Indochine, in Hà Nội, together with other celebrated Vietnamese painters like Lê Phổ, Vũ Cao Đàm and Lê Văn Đệ.

The painter settled in France in the late 1930s and stayed there until he died; however, he still retained the deepest-rooted sense of Vietnamese identity. He soon abandoned oils for gouache and ink on silk - typical Asian techniques that enabled him to develop a style richly reminiscent of traditional Chinese and Vietnamese art. His artwork often depicted everyday life scenes, landscapes, and portraits, showcasing his skillful use of colours and capturing the essence of Vietnamese culture. VNS

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