Unearthing a forgotten Vietnamese Master | Aguttes Paris' Asian Art Auction in March

32nd Asian Painters - Major Works of Art Auction

For its 32nd edition, the Painters of Asia Major Pieces auction will be held on 14 March. Aguttes, the historic leader in the market for artists from Asia, has assembled previously unseen paintings by major Asian artists such as Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam, Mai Trung Thu. Through the presentation of Jeune elegante se coiffant, Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier also permits the discovery of the artist, Tran Tan Loc. 

Discovering the artist, Tran Tan Loc

Aguttes Auction House is honoured by this major step forward in the knowledge of early 20th century painting with the discovery of artist, Tran Tan Loc. Research conducted in concert with Vietnamese historians regarding the sale of a rare painting dated 1932, allows Aguttes to officially return Tran Tan Loc's authorship of many works previously given by the international art market to Tran Binh Loc.

Born in 1906, Tran Tan Loc is a Vietnamese illustrator who worked during the 1950s as an illustrator at Fine Arts Cooperative in Hanoi. With the Jeune élégante se coiffant painting, Tran Tan Loc illustrates the 1,000-year-old Asian tradition of painting female beauties at their toilette. 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. This work was bought by a Vietnamese collector, who left Hanoi to settle in France in the 1950s, and has kept it ever since. Unpublished and masterful, it is a splendid surprise.

Tran Tan Loc (1906-1968) | Jeune élégante se coiffant

Ink and colours on silk
Signed and dated lower left, titled and signed upper right
The work is in its original frame. A label on the back "Au régal des yeux. Workshop of decorators. 6 Bd Gia - Long. Hanoi"
Created in circa 1932
76 x 53 cm

Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980)

Mai Trung Thu, a Vietnamese painter who graduated from the Indochina School of Fine Arts, decided to settle in France in the late 1930s. His work has long remained confidential. His work has been brought to light for nearly 10 years by the 31 sales organised by Aguttes, and is now truly recognized on the international scene. Whether of young girls, or staged in landscapes, Mai Trung Thu pays homage to the beauty of women in his native country by making them one of his favourite themes.

Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980)La prière

Ink and colours on silk 
Signed and dated lower left, countersigned and titled on back
Created in 1943
45.4 x 28 cm

Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980)Bijoux

Ink and colours on silk
Signed and dated upper right, titled on back
In the original frame made by the artist
Created in 1964
31 x 22.2 cm 

Mai Trung Thu was also moved by the tenderness of family moments. In particular, these scenes illustrate the special relationship, and one that is particularly highlighted in Far East Asia, that can exist between generations
primarily between the elderly and young children. After the Ceremonie du thé presented in September 2021, Aguttes is bringing L'Ecole, which was recently exhibited to the art market at the Musée des Ursulines in Mâcon, France. This scene, in which the candor and vivacity of the curious children meets the wisdom and calm of the old man, is of the highest quality of execution, as are the artist's early works.

Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980)L'Ecole

Ink and colours on silk
Signed and dated lower left
In the original frame made by the artist
Created in 1953
45.5 x 54 cm

The Collection of a great, knowledgeable art lover and Vietnamese patron 

Aguttes also offers for sale a unique Vietnamese private collection. A descendant of Emperor Minh Mang of the Nguyen Phuoc dynasty (circa 16th-19th century), a diplomat and now an international businessman, Dr. D. began his Collection in the 2000s. Curious, passionate about art history and faithful to his origins, he has been committed throughout his quest to bring together the creations of those artists of Vietnamese origin who resided in France - such as Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam and Le Pho.

Long before the art market craze, he set his sights in particular on pivotal works corresponding to these painters' early years in the West. These works echo the family history of this distinguished collector from these two cultures. In the 1950s, his father was part of a minority of Vietnamese who left the country to study in France and then settled there. So Dr. D., who grew up between these two countries, was particularly sensitive to these testimonies telling the history of his native land.

Today, he wishes to pass on this Collection in order to share the emotion it brings him with a new generation of collectors. The proceeds of this sale will be used to develop another project that is close to his heart - always related to the promotion of Vietnamese culture and art. We will remember two emblematic works - namely L'anneau de Jade by Vu Cao Dam and Jeunes filles aux fleurs de pêcher by Le Pho.

Produced in France, they use a technique dear to the Vietnamese artists of the first Indochina School of Fine Arts classes: silk. But Western influences
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) for Le Pho, and more broadly the Nabis, the Impressionists painters appear here with the introduction of colours and materials that offer an innovative dimension to these masterpieces and thus magnificently illustrate this amalgam between the East and West.

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000)L'anneau de jade

Gouache and ink on silk
Signed on the lower right
Created in 1950
54 x 44.8 cm

Le Pho (1907-2001)Jeune fille aux fleurs de pêcher

Oil, ink and gouache on silk
Signed on the lower right
71 x 44.5 cm

Le Pho (1907-2001)

Another major artist of the Indochina School of Fine Arts, Le Pho demonstrates a perfect syncretism between the traditional silk ink painting of his native land and the Impressionist influences of his adopted land, France.

The following two works, which will be auctioned on 14 March, come from the Collection of a young Vietnamese student who was invited to lunch by the artist and his wife on several occasions when he arrived in Paris during the 1950s. A long and beautiful friendship developed and, a few years later, he acquired a few paintings that he kept as a souvenir of these strong ties.

Le Pho (1907-2001)La blanchisseuse

Oil on silk mounted on isorel
Signed lower left, titled on back
63 × 44 cm

Le Pho (1907-2001)Maternité

Oil, ink and colours on silk
Signed lower right
46 x 32 cm

Often recognised as a painter of maternities, Le Pho also makes his presence known with other themes represented in our sale. Petit garçon attablé is part of a rare series from the 1930s and representing portraits of young children. The later years are illustrated by paintings such as La promenade, still lifes of bouquets and flowers - the latter theme was dear to him.

Le Pho (1907-2001)Petit garçon attablé

Ink and colours on silk
Signed upper left
28.5 x 22.6 cm

Le Pho (1907-2001)La promenade

Oil on canvas
Signed lower right
81 x 99 cm

Le Pho (1907-2001)Composition aux pivoines

Oil on canvas
Signed lower left
41.8 x 27.5 cm

Le Pho (1907-2001)Fleurs au vase bleu

Oil on canvas
Signed lower left
46 x 33 cm

Vu Cao Dam (1908 – 2000)

Also trained in Hanoi, Vu Cao Dàm settled in France shortly before the Second World War. Like Le Pho, this painter liked to illustrate the tenderness of a mother and her child
 inspired by Christian maternity.

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000)Maternité

Oil on isorel
Signed lower left
Created in circa 1950
61 x 49.8 cm

While Vu Cao Dam is best known for his paintings, his sculptural output is also as remarkable. Upon entering the Indochina School of Fine Arts, he chose the Sculpture department. In 1931, he exhibited his bronzes at the Universal Exhibition in Vincennes, eastern Paris. His talent is expressed through the lots presenting three bronzes and a terracotta illustrating female heads as well as hens
 collectively, a testimony to his versatility in the field. 

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000)Tête de jeune femme

Signed on the back
19 x 10.5 x 11 cm

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000)Tête de jeune femme

Bronze with a shaded green patina
Signed on the reverse, inscribed EA and marked with the Valsuani founder's stamp on the base
25 x 20.5 x 12 cm

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Poule

Bronze with brown-green patina
Signed and numbered 3/10 on the base
23.2 x 20.5 x 12 cm

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Poule

Bronze with brown-green patina
Signed and numbered 8/10 on the base, marked with the founder's stamp Valsuani on the base
20.5 x 16 x 11 cm

Women painters also honored: Alix Aymé and Le Thi Luu

Alix Aymé, a student of French painter, Maurice Denis (1870-1943) with a passion for Indochina and the lacquer technique she promoted at the Indochina School of Fine Arts, also developed a studio painting. L'Enfant au chat dans l'atelier is a capture of a fraction of her studio in which a child poses
her son having served as a model for the occasion.

As for Le Thi Luu, she is one of the few female artists to have entered the Indochina School of Fine Arts, and then to pursue a career as a professional painter. Her work is notably characterised by a great gentleness associated with a predilection for themes involving mothers and children
reflected in the paintings, Enfant au jardin and Mère allaitant dans un intérieur.

Alix Aymé (1894-1989) | François au chat dans l'atelier

Tempera on silk
Marked with the stamp of the sale of the workshop on the back
Created in 1940-1942
70.5 x 90 cm

Le Thi Luu (1911-1988) | Enfant au jardin

Gouache and ink on silk
Signed and dated lower right
Created in 1986
46.2 x 38.2 cm

Le Thi Luu (1911-1988) | Mère allaitant dans un intérieur

Mixed technique on silk
Signed and dated lower right
Subject: 41 x 33 cm
Sheet: 55.8 x 45.1 cm

Auction Details:

Auction House: Aguttes France
Sale: Asian Painters · Major Works of Art (32)
Sale Date and Time: Monday, 14 March 2022 |  2:30pm (Paris local time)
Location: Aguttes Neuilly-sur-Seine Auction Room
The auction's sale catalogue can be found on Aguttes' official website

Asian Painters Specialist

Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier
+33 1 41 92 06 49