Showcasing Vietnamese Artists | Aguttes Paris' Art Auction in October

On 3 October, and for its 35th auction dedicated to Painters and Arts from Vietnam, Aguttes, the historical leader in the market for artists from Asia, will honour artists trained at the Indochina School of Fine Arts as well as those from the region's schools of applied arts. A rare lacquer by Le Quoc Loc as well as iconic paintings by renowned painters such as Mai Trung Thu, Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam and Alix Aymé constitute this 35th catalogue, which is complemented by a selection of sculptures, in lacquered wood and metal, and Hué blue porcelains.

Great names in modern Vietnamese art in auctions

The magnificent silk En plein air (circa 1940-45) by Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) fetched €794,720 euros at Aguttes on 2 June, and the auction house had a first half of 2022 with new world records. The department, which is a forerunner in this market, will once again present these artists, who are a real hit on the international market. These are names that Aguttes has been showcasing to art lovers for nearly 10 years during previous auctions, and helping them to rediscover these masterpieces.

Mai Trung Thu (1909-1980)

Among these talents is Mai Trung Thu, a Vietnamese painter from the Indochina School of Fine Arts who decided to settle in France in the late 1930s. The 34 previous exhibitions organised by Aguttes have brought his work, which had long remained confidential, back to light. Today, it attracts real interest from international collectors. Whether depicting young girls or landscapes, Mai Trung Thu pays tribute to the beauty of his native country's women by making them one of his favourite themes.

Lot 4 | Mai Trung Thu (1909-1980) | Jeunes filles aux coussins

Created in 1961
19.5 x 89.5 cm   
Estimate: €100,000 – 150,000 

In his works, Mai Trung Thu describes the notion of femininity through several somewhat nostalgic perspectives of an idealised past. The female figures depicted in Jeunes filles aux coussins let us perceive the painter's affectionate vision of the traditional aesthetics of Vietnamese women's beauty, and that of a fantasised atmosphere. The painter's confident line brings out the subtle nuances of the rich and vivid palette of this composition. The delicacy of the faces of the three protagonists mingles with the softness of the composition, in which the young girls take their place. Leaning on traditional arm cushions, they have abandoned their occupations and are distracted by the happy announcement, which has just been made and accompanies the movement of this little flower.

Lot 7 | Mai Trung Thu (1909-1980) | L’écharpe bleue

Created in 1942
30 x 21.7 cm

  • Collection of the Princess of Annam, wife of the Emperor Ham Nghi, El-Biar
  • Algeria Private collection of a local contractor who worked on the construction of the princely residence (offered by the previous one as a thank you for many services)
  • Private collection, South of France (great-grandson of the Algerian contractor, brought back around 1962 and passed on by the family since)

Estimate: €80,000 – 120,000 

Still around femininity, L'écharpe bleue shows viewers the grace and elegance of a young girl, which will not fail to catch the eye. The latter will succumb to Mai Trung Thu's brushstroke: the composition's lightness, punctuated by the movement of the veil and its transparency, pays tribute to femininity, which is celebrated by the artist. This silk comes from the Collection of the Princess of Annam, wife of Prince Ham Nghi, El-Biar, who then offered it to an Algerian entrepreneur.

Lot 12 | Mai Trung Thu (1909-1980) | Pommes

Created in 1959
30 x 30 cm
Estimate : €100,000 – 150,000 

"Modern art was born the day Cézanne discovered that, for the artist, the apple was not the apple, but a subject for observation."

In terms of art history, the apple is a universal, rich and complex subject that artists strive to depict. Here, Mai Trung Thu offers his own version of the apple still life, delicately laying a soft and subtle palette on the silk. All of the painter's virtuosity is felt in the treatment of these three fruits, placed on an octagonal yellow tray, capturing the viewer's eye. The neutral background, characteristic of Mai, sets the tone for the warm nuances. With subtlety, the artist comes to assert the lines with a fine black line, delicately contrasting with the overall softness of the work.

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000)

This catalogue allows us to appreciate Vu Cao Dam's multidisciplinary nature (1908-2000) through three different mediums. First, silk, a noble material in vogue in the late 1920s in the workshops of the Indochina School of Fine Arts. Then sculpture, an art that Vu was particularly fond of and in which he would specialise in. And finally oil painting, which he devoted a large part of his life, in contact in particular with Russian-French artist, Marc Chagall, whom he rubbed shoulders with in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

Lot 10 | Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Tête de jeune garçon

Terracotta | Signed on the back
Created in circa 1945-1950
20 x 6 x 10 cm (30 cm with the base)
Estimate: €30,000 – 50,000 

A great subject in classical painting, motherhood is also one of this artist's recurring themes, and this sale offers three by Vu Cao Dam. Known for his depictions of soft and delicate young women, drawn with the finesse of his brush, Vu paid tribute in Maternité to this mother and her child. The characters' half-closed eyes and the tenderness of their gestures for each other, are enough to represent the beauty of this shared moment. If family is one of the essential values in Asian culture, motherhood represents a universal language, which Vu honoured with talent.

Lot 5 | Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Maternité

Created in circa 1950
61 x 46 cm
Estimate : €180,000 – 220,000

Lot 9 | Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Maternité

Created in 1961
65 x 54 cm
Estimate: €40,000 – 60,000

Lot 8 | Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Mère et enfant

Oil on panel | Signed lower right, countersigned, titled, dated and located Vence on the back. In its original frame, made by artist
Created in 1956
100 x 73 cm
Estimate: €70,000 – 100,000

Le Quoc Loc (1918-1987)

A lacquer virtuoso, Le Quoc Loc has recently achieved record sales on the art market. An artist who graduated from the twelfth class of the Indochina School of Fine Arts in 1942, he specialised in the art of lacquer. The work presented here, composed of six panels, stays true to the artist's creative line. Full of lush vegetation with a warm and shimmering palette, it presents a skilful blend between lyricism and nature. The artist strives to enhance his Vietnamese culture, and if this screen is displayed as a showcase for the artist's talent, it is above all a tribute to Vietnam.

Lot 6 | Le Quoc Loc (1918-1987) | Les rapides de Cho Bo

Created in 1942
100 x 32.7 cm
Estimate: €300,000 – 400,000 

Second part of the auction of 3 October 2022 | The Arts of Vietnam

Lot 53 | Important covered baluster jar with a long flared neck in blue-white porcelain, decorated with birds and butterflies in flowers and pierced rocks, the neck and the lid underlined by a frieze of chevrons

Double circle on the base 
Height: 46 cm
(Cracks to the body and small chip to the edge)
Estimate: €1,000 – 1,500 

The second part of this sale honors sculpture, in lacquered wood and metal, and Chinese porcelain exported to Vietnam, better known as Hué blue. This last chapter, composed of more than forty lots, comes mainly from two former French private collections. It also illustrates both the technical perfection of these commissioned ceramics and the diversity of their forms and decorations, which achieve an unprecedented synthesis between the Chinese and Vietnamese cultures. The large covered jar with bird decoration, and the two large blue-white porcelain bowls with rich dragon decoration, which were used at the court of Thieu Tri (1841-1847), are the key lots in this last chapter.

Lot 56 | Important blue-white porcelain bowl, decorated with three reserves describing the metamorphosis of the carp into a dragon, each of the reserves separated by a carpet of hexagonal patterns riddled with dots evoking a turtle shell

Mark with the dragon in medallion on the base
Height: 9.5 cm | Diameter: 19.8 cm
(Tiny chip on the edge and small cracks from firing on the base)
Estimate: €2,000 – 3,000

Lot 57 | Important blue-white porcelain bowl, decorated with three reserves describing the metamorphosis of the carp into a dragon, each of the reserves separated by a carpet of hexagonal patterns riddled with dots evoking a turtle shell

Mark with the dragon in medallion on the base
Height: 9.5 cm | Diameter: 19.8 cm
(Small chip continued by a crack at the edge and small chips at the base)
Estimate: €2,000 – 3,000

In the 18th century, the influential Trinh family embraced Chinese porcelain: nothing equals the whiteness of the paste of these porcelains, obtained from kaolin, and the brilliance of their cobalt blue glaze of Persian origin. Designed and decorated according to models provided by Vietnamese artists, the Hué blue porcelains illustrate the synthesis that took place between the ceramic workshops of China and the cultivated elite of Vietnam, and these two exceptional bowls used at the court of Thieu Tri (1841-1847) (lots 56 and 57) are a perfect example.

Their profile, with a notched wall that flares out at the opening to form a wing, is completely new. Moreover, their carp-dragon decoration profoundly renews an iconography whose critical fortune is considerable in China. The shape and decoration of these vessels have no equivalent in China.

Auction Details: 

Auction House: Aguttes France 
Sale: Painters & Arts from Vietnam (35)
Date and Time: Monday, 3 October 3 2022 | 2:30pm (Paris local time)
Location: Aguttes Neuilly-sur-Seine Auction Room | 164 Bis Avenue Charles de Gaulle
Catalogue and further information:

Asian Painters Expert

Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier
+33 1 41 92 06 49

Aguttes, first auction house in Europe on the market of 20th century Asian painters

The Asian Painters Department headed by Expert, Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier, has been working for the past decade to bring back to light the little-known Asian artists of the 20th century. Aguttes has thus presented several dozen paintings by Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu or Vu Cao Dam, and has regularly obtained new world records. These efforts have enabled the auction house to take the leading position in Europe in the market for Asian painters, to the satisfaction of buyers from around the world.

Among the signatures that are sought after by Asian collectors, and that Aguttes defends with passion, let us mention among others Le Pho, Nam Son, Alix Ayme, Le Thy, Vu Cao Dam, Mai Trung Thu, Joseph Inguimberty, Nguyen Phan Chanh, Nguyen Tien Chung, Tran Phuc Duyen, Le Thi Luu, Raden Saleh... as well as Sanyu, Lin Fengmian and Pan Yuliang. In addition, this also includes artists coming from Schools of Fine Arts in these regions of Asia.

Sales are organised on a quarterly basis at carefully chosen dates, in connection with the market news on the most important international markets.