French Auction House Aguttes Sheds Light on Asian Artwork That Shapes the 20th Century

Prominent French auction house Aguttes is set to present its 27th sale of “Painters of Asia, Major Work.” in France on November 30. Featuring quality artworks by South-east Asian artists, the sale highlights talents that enrich the Asian art scene, and to build and contribute to an up-and-coming art culture to be reckoned with.


“Painters of Asia, Major Work”

Taking the leading role in the French market, Aguttes is dedicated to promoting artwork curated by talented Asian artists of the 20th century. The coming sale will feature a myriad of works hand-picked by Contemporary art expert, Charlotte Reynier-Aguttes, to manifest the beauty of Vietnamese art.

Lot 1 | Sanyu (1901-1966), Etude de nu féminin

Ink on paper

Signed lower right

56 x 37 cm

Estimate: €40,000 - 60,000


The sale will see an exciting opening with Etude de nu féminin, a work by Sanyu, hailed as “Chinese Matisse”. Known for his ability to portrait the tranquil elegance of the nudes, still-life flowers and animals, Sanyu’s works are as expressive as they are abstract, with a hint of Fauvism, where vibrant colors and exacerbated brushwork deliver a powerfully crisp approach.

Also not to be missed in the sale is an array of works from artists who graduated from Vietnam University of Fine Arts, to showcase what Vietnam brings to the Contemporary art landscape worldwide.

Mai Trung Thu, is known for his forte to communicate women’s femininity with ink and gouache on silk, and Le sommeil is no exception. The piece comes across as a more intricate and complex one, standing out from his oeuvre as one of the rare finds, and is bound to attract keen adherents and collectors alike.

Completed in 1943, the silk painting exemplifies oriental femininity through an embodiment of both Western and Sino-Vietnamese influences. Soft and sensual, the demure, young Vietnamese woman depicted captures the essence in a subtle manner. The painting captures the moment when she dozes off with a paper fan in her hand, as she nonchalantly rests her face on her other arm. As her body gracefully peeks through the soft emerald green veil, it adds to mysteriousness among the dreamy charm Mai portrays.

Lot 4 | Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980), Le Sommeil, 1943

Ink and color on silk

Signed and dated upper right

36.8 x 50.7 cm

Estimate: €80,000 - 120,000 

Also graduated from the first cohort of Vietnam University of Fine Arts was Vu Cao Dam, another key figure that played an important role in the development of Vietnamese art in the early 20th century. Vu Cao Dam is best-known for his ink and gouache on silk works. Portraits are commonly seen in his works, as well as patriotic and religious inspirations.

Mère et Enfant depicts yet another classic subject of motherhood. The painting was done in the 20th- to early 30th-century. Clean composition and colorways convey moments of tenderness and communion. It presents to its viewers the pure, unconditional love a mother gives, in a subtle, yet powerful way. Motherhood has then become omnipresent among various artists.


Lot 6 | Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000), Mère et Enfant

Ink and color on silk

Signed lower right

60 x 46 cm

Estimate: €40,000 - 60,000


A few years later, Vu Cao Dam brought about another wave of appreciation in the Asian art world with yet another masterpiece. The Chevaux au Galop is all about the dynamism and fervor through the depiction of horses. The noble animals are placed in the foreground, against the background composed of patches of colors reminiscent of Impressionism.

Lot 7 | Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000), Chevaux au Galop

Ink and color on silk

Signed lower right

60.4 x 50 cm

Estimate: €50,000 - 80,000


Le Thi Luu, the only female of the first generation Vietnamese 20th century contemporary artists, resided in Paris during the 20th- to 30th-century period. She was also a graduate of Vietnam University of Fine Arts, particularly drawn to subjects involving women and children. The Fillette aux Nattes avec Son Panier de Fleurs profoundly imbues an element of innocence.

Lot 5 | Le Thi Luu (1911-1988), Fillette aux Nattes avec Son Panier de Fleurs

Gouache and ink on silk

Signed lower right

33.1 x 20 cm

Estimate: €15,000 - 20,000

What also caught our eyes are the pieces by Alix Aymé. The French painter takes her cultural odyssey through such South-eastern countries as Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, before taking up a teaching position in Vietnamese University of Fine Arts. Her oeuvre encompasses lacquer paintings, silk paintings, and sketches, connecting together both the Nabis and traditional Vietnamese painting arenas. 

Two of the lacquer paintings will grace the coming Aguttes sale; including one from Alix Aymé, who was devoted to sharing her love for lacquer work in her teaching career; another one is La baie d’Halong by Tran Phuc Duyen.


Lot 8 | Alix Aymé (1894-1989), Scène de Marché

Oil on cardboard

Signed lower left

38 x 51 cm

Estimate:€ 25,000 - 35,000


Lot 10 | Tran Phuc Duyen (1923-1993), La baie d’Halong, 1952

Lacquer with gold highlights

Signed and dated lower left, stamped on the back 

41 x 50 cm

Estimate : €8,000 - 12,000

Aguttes Auctions 

Venue: 164 bis avenue Charles de Gaulle, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

Date: November 30, 2020

Time: 2:30pm (GMT+1)

*The auction will take place behind closed doors. To place an absentee bid or bid by phone, please write to: and follow the sale on Live by registering on:


Charlotte Reynier-Aguttes:|+33 (0)1 41 92 06 49

About Aguttes Auction

Aguttes is the fourth largest French auction house and the largest independent one, with no outside shareholders. Founded by Claude Aguttes in 1974 and now run by two of his daughters—Philippine Dupré la Tour and Charlotte Reynier-Aguttes—the auction house is a team of 60 talented individuals. The French House passed the symbolic €50-million auction milestone in 2018 - a result never before achieved by an independent auction house in France. In 2019, Aguttes totalled €66 million.

With an international saleroom located in western Paris and representative offices in Brussels, Lyon and Aix-en-Provence, Aguttes stands out for its personalized service and responsiveness. The auction house is positioned on the valuation and auction of exceptional works and major French collections. In 2019, thanks to its international buyers (who amount to 70% of all buyers), it has held 76 auctions above €100,000, which includes four sales of million-euro lots, and brought about 15 world records.

Aguttes is positioned as the alternative to art market leaders, with 15 specialized departments, from Asian painters, Old Masters Paintings & Drawings, Asian art, Russian Art, Classic Cars, Jewellery & Fine Pearls, Collector Watches, Rare Books & Manuscripts, Contemporary, Modern & Impressionist Art, Design, Furniture & Decorative Art, to Wine & Spirits.