This sale including works by Vu Cao Dam, Mai-Thu and Lê Quoc Loc featured two of Vietnam’s signature techniques.
Vu Cao Dam (1908–2000), Motherhood, c. 1950, ink, colors and light gouache highlights on silk, 61 x 46 cm/24.01 x 18.11 in.
At the 35th auction devoted to Vietnamese artists, 99.6% of the lots’ value was sold for a total result of nearly €3 M. Market headliners contributed to those figures, starting with Vu Cao Dam, whose 1950s painting Motherhood fetched the highest price, €488,480 (see photo). Always treated with great sensitivity, this is a recurring theme in his work. Mother and Child (100 x 73 cm/39.37 x 28.74 in), an oil on canvas that the member of the second graduating class of the École des beaux-arts in Hanoi painted in 1956, sold for €220,520. His terracotta Head of a Boy (h. 20 cm/7.87 in) illustrates his skills as a sculptor, a particularity that sets him apart from his colleagues (€101,400). Mai-Thu (1909–1980) depicted an idealized Vietnam where life is sweet and women are elegant. His 1961 silk painting Girls with Pillows (19.5 x 89.5 cm/7.67 x 35.23 in) fetched €360,880, Apples (30 x 30 cm/11.81 x 11.81 in) €297,080 and the small-format Blue Scarf (30.5 x 22 cm/12.00 x 8.66 in) €271,560. The provenance of Blue Scarf captured bidders’ attention: it belonged to the Princess of Annam, wife of Emperor Ham Nghi (1871–1944).
In the highly desirable lacquerware section, the second lot was a 1942 six-leaf folding screen with gold highlights featuring the Cho Bo rapids by Lê Quoc Loc (see photo), who perfectly rendered their relief and depth. Under a golden sky, the morning mist rises up over lush vegetation before dissipating. The warm colors contributing to the composition’s harmony led to the result of €462,960, the second-highest price on the global market (source: Artnet).
The afternoon began with lesser-known 20th-century artists, including Na Duc Thu and his bronze Young Indochinese Woman (h. 42 cm/16.53 in, €18,452) and Dinh Van Dan with Village in the Clearing, a lacquer panel featuring a red background and gold highlights (32 x 42.3 cm/12.59 x 16.65 in). The total result was €18,200.