Asian Week at Aguttes | 26 November to 1 December 2021

Aguttes, the historic leader in the market for Asian artists

Recognised for its expertise in Asian arts, Aguttes auction house is dedicating an entire week to these specialities, between 26 November and 1 December 2021.

A wonderful escape through the techniques of early 20th century painters, such as Le Pho, Pham Hau, and also through the collections of poet and sinologist, Victor Segalen (1878-1919); as well as Commander Louis Audemard (1865-1955), former French naval officer and explorer. 

On 7 June, after the sale of Pham Hau's Paysage aux jonques, 1943, at €833,000 euros (second world record for the artist), Aguttes presents its 31st sale dedicated to Asian painters in this new session. On 29 November, three exceptional lacquers also by the same artist will be offered for sale. Renowned painters such as Vietnam's Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam, Luong Xuan Nhi, Alix Ayme; and China's Sanyu will be featured. 

On 30 November, the auction house will highlight art from the Far East, particularly from China during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, through the moving past of great explorers who preserved them.

Poet and sinologist, Victor Segalen (1878-1919), will have a very special place in this sale – featuring some rare pieces from his personal collection.

On 1 December, another highlight will be 150 lots formerly part of Major Louis Audemard's (1865-1955) Collection, discovered by Aguttes in the castle of the descendants of the French naval officer and explorer.

Asian Painters, Major Works [31]

29 November 2021 | Neuilly-sur-Seine

Women in Vietnamese painting

Vietnamese painting honours women regardless of their social status and celebrates their elegance.

Four portraits of women are featured in the catalogue. Works by Le Pho, Luong Xuan Nhi, Vu Cao Dam and Alix Ayme bear witness to the evolution of the treatment of this subject throughout the years, and each major artist's artistic style.

Le Pho, painter of women

Le Pho knew how to capture women as a family or in portrait throughout his work. Jeune femme au lotus et à l’éventail was created during the artist's early years of practice. Influenced by his teaching at the Hanoi School of Fine Arts, he mainly uses the technique of ink on silk – a medium that originated in ancestral Chinese practices. The fineness of silk offers a delicate effect – ideal for depicting femininity, and the watered-down ink allows each colour to coalesce in harmony.

Typical of the artist's first period, a dark palette was used in this painting. A delicate touch of yellow enhances this chromatic range on the edge of the sleeves and on the red button found near the neck. These details of refinement contribute to the model's elegance. Wearing the traditional outfit, ao dai, and a turban around her hair separated in the middle, this young woman embodies the Vietnamese ideal. Her fine oval features, her ebony coloured hair and her graceful posture remind us of her origins.

But Western influences can also be seen in this composition. The serpentine line ensuring the young woman a movement made of curves, recalls the discovery of the Mannerist artists by Le Pho during the early 1930s. The treatment of the portrait featuring the model at the centre, framed by two sections of curtains, reflect Western influences. Like a Venus from Asia, this work shows how Le Pho depicts and pays tribute to the beauty of women from his country.

Le Pho (1907-2001) | Jeune femme au lotus et à l’éventail

Estimate: €150,000 200,000

Luong Xuan Nhi (1913-2006)

Jeune fille à la colombe, an oil on canvas by Luong Xuan Nhi, also tells the story of the developments encountered in Vietnam. The protagonist wears the latest fashionable clothes, an ao dai and a hairstyle without a turban. She is from a wealthy background, epitomised by her earrings and elegant dress.

The Master of Greens, a fervent follower of oil painting, offers an ode to love in this case. 

Luong Xuan Nhi (1913-2006) | Jeune fille à la colombe

Created in circa 1938

  • Private collection, acquired in Hanoi in the late 1930s
  • Brought to Paris at the time of the family installation early 1950s
  • Then by descent

Estimate: €120,000 150,000

Recognition of laquer as an art

Pham Hau (1903-1995)

A leading Vietnamese artist and craftsman of the 20th century, Pham Hau embodies to the artistic revival of lacquer work. He contributed to the recognition of this craft as a true art. A remarkable group of lacquers by Pham Hau testifies to the extent of the master lacquerer's talents, and allows the audience to approach various themes close to the artist. Inspired by the representation of landscapes, forests and animals, Pham's lacquers are collected by both European and Vietnamese collectors.

A lacquer by Pham similar to the one that will go on sale in November, raised €833,000 euros at Aguttes on 7 June 2021.

Composed of three panels and estimated between €350,000 and 500,000 euros, it portrays an idyllic place – similar to Halong Bay, which repeatedly inspired the artist. A fervent admirer of Vietnam's natural riches, Pham constantly depicted landscapes around him.

Signed on the lower right, Paysage aux jonques (Landscape with junks) offers an innovative lacquer treatment, which brings more relief finish and depth. The Master incorporates new colours such as lagoon blue, pink or green, as he extends this modernity through a revision of the lacquering technique itself.

In order to create more depth and a new space, he combined the painting and sculpture techniques. Pham's exceptional skill allowed him to go beyond the precepts of traditional lacquer work, and to contribute to the influence of this art throughout his country and the world.

Pham Hau (1903-1995) | Paysage aux jonques 

Estimate: €350,000 500,000

A five-panel screen, entitled Village animé, illustrates Pham's attachment to his country.

The artist pays tribute to the rich vegetation, and thus reminds us his country's prosperity and natural wealth. Pham uses the colours conventionally used in lacquer – vermilion, auburn and gold. But their application shows a certain modernity – the gold powder skillfully enhances the composition, while the artist creates a sense of depth and space. 

Pham Hau (1903-1995) | Village animé

Lacquer with gold and silver highlights
Screen with 5 panels, Full screen: 110.4 x 163.8 cm

  • Collection of a Frenchman who lived in Indochina around 1950
  • Private collection, France (offered by the previous owner on his return from Indochina and kept since)

Estimate: €250,000 – 350,000 

Scène d'aquarium avec les poissons rouges d'abondance (c.1950-1960) immortalises the marvellous aquatic depths and more importantly, an array of goldfish. Through the eggshell and gold highlights, Pham refines the seabed.


Pham Hau (1903-1995) | Scène d’aquarium avec les poissons rouges d’abondance

Lacquer with gold highlights and eggshell | Signed lower right  
Created in circa 1950-1960 
200 x 100 cm  

  • Private collection, Belgium

Estimate : €150,000 – 250,000

Impressionist Influences

Le Pho (1907-2001)

Another student of the Hanoi School of Fine Arts, Le Pho is also honoured with a work illustrating his transition between two artistic styles. In Bouquet aux dahlias roses, the artist uses a Far Eastern style and silk as a medium, where lively colours appear. The painter settled permanently in France in 1937, and discovered colour while developing his knowledge of oil painting.

Not entirely neglecting his first love for ink and silk and captivated by Bonnard's work, he utilises these different mediums while keeping his traditional support. The use of colours on silk underlines the artist's great mastery and also his attachment to the Far East's artistic techniques.

In his early years, the artist depicted the softness of his country's women. This painting marks a turning point in Le Pho's work, with its subject matter also falling between two eras. Halfway between modernity and tradition, Bouquet de fleurs aux dahlias roses represents this artist's dualistic style – considered one of the leading figures of modern Vietnamese art.

Le Pho (1907-2001) | Bouquet aux dahlias roses

Created in circa 1950-55

Estimate: €50,000 – 80,000 

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000)

A popular mecca of inspiration for 20th century artists, southern France offered a sense of luminosity and azure blue. This is reflected in Saint-Paul de Vence, a painting by Vu Cao Dam. The blue dominates, as a tribute to the region. Sensitive to the mild Mediterranean climate, but also fascinated by the undeniable charm of this village, many artists such as Matisse and Modigliani have stayed in the emblematic Auberge de la Colombe d'Or.

Born in Hanoi, Vu was one of those artists who took residence in southern France. This painting illustrates the influence of the region on the artist's style. Liberated from the education provided by his professors at the Hanoi School of Fine Arts, Vu distinguishes himself, here, from his counterparts by the selection of the subject. He is one of the few artists to represent his adopted land.

In 1963, he created this landscape painting when he devoted himself to oil painting. Similar to another artist's style who also adopted France as their new home, Zao Wou-ki, Vu reminds the audience that his style constantly evolved and cannot be confined to a single artistic trend.

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) | Saint-Paul de Vence

Created in 1963

  • Private collection, Belgium (acquired directly from the artist)
  • Private collection, Belgium (acquired during the liquidation of the previous collection in 1977)

Estimate: €50,000 – 80,000

Bronze of the Emperor of Annam, S. M. Khai Dinh, circa 1922

Bronze model made for his personal use, by Paul Ducuing

During the construction of his grandiose mausoleum, the Emperor of Annam, S. M. Khai Dinh, commissioned a life-size sculpture representing himself. This commission was entrusted to Paul Ducuing, a sculptor from Toulouse.

A few small bronze models were made by the artist on this occasion at the special request of Khai Dinh, who wished to keep them for his family. This bronze with a golden patina, was entrusted to Aguttes by Khai Dinh's great-grandchild – a descendant of Bao Dai, who was the last Vietnamese Emperor.

In 1922, one of these bronze sculptures was presented at the Colonial Exhibition in Marseille. In 1931, during the Exposition Coloniale Internationale de Paris, the Pavillon de l'Annam presented a gilded painted plaster (with a height of 77.5 cm). It is now kept at the Musée du Quai Branly (historical fund coming from the Ministry of Colonies, which was then deposited at the Musée National des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie in 1946). Visitors can admire its full-length version in Hue, Vietnam, at Khai Dinh's mausoleum – located in Chau Chu Mountain and along the Perfume River.


Paul Jean Marie Ducuing (1867/68-1949) | Portrait de l’Empereur d’Annam S. M. Khai Dinh

Bronze with gold patina, signed in the right sleeve
Stamped F. Barbedienne Fondeur Paris on the base
Created in circa 1922
33 x 21.9 x 12 cm 

  • Personal collection of Bao Dai (1913-1997), (designed especially for her attention)
  • Collection of Monique Toinel, a favourite of Bao Dai, (offered by the former on the occasion of the birth of their daughter in 1965)
  • Then by descent

Estimate: €20,000 30,000

Sanyu (1901-1966) 

In 1970, Mr. C., a Parisian collector, discovered Sanyu at the Gallery of Jean-Claude Riedel. He bought Fleurs dans un vase with an inscription, circa 1930 (painting was sold by Aguttes in June 2015 for €4.08 million euros) and some inks – including one presented in the sale which is estimated between €12,000 and 15,000 euros. 

Sanyu (1901-1966) | Nu féminin de dos 

Ink on paper
Signed lower right
43.4 x 26.3 cm

  • Jean-Claude Riedel Collection, Paris
  • Private collection, France (acquired from the previous owner around 1970)
  • Then by descent

Estimate: €12,000 15,000


Viewing by appointment

Saturday, 27 November 2021 | 11am – 6 pm
Monday, 29 November 2021 | 10am – 12 pm

Asian Painters Expert

Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier
+33 1 41 92 06 49

Asian Painters, Major Works [31]

Monday, 29 November 2021 | 2:30pm | Neuilly-sur-Seine


Asian Art: The Dragon's Wisdom

Tuesday, 30 November 2021 | 2:30pm | Neuilly-sur-Seine

Collection of the Explorer Louis Audemard, Navy Officer in Asia in the years 1900

Wednesday, 1 December 2021 | 2:30pm | Neuilly-sur-Seine

Public Viewing

Aguttes Neuilly-Sur-Seine
Friday, November 26 | 3pm-7pm
Saturday, November 27 | 11am-6pm

Asian Arts Specialist 

Johanna Blancard de Lery
+33 1 47 45 00 90