A highly sought-after Le Van De

On 06 June 2019, by Anne Foster and Claire Papon

This peaceful waterside scene by Le Van De looks set to inspire quite a battle, since works by the Vietnamese artist rarely come on the market. 

Le Van De (1906-1966), Enfants jouant au jardin (Children Playing in the Garden), oil on canvas, 86 x 105 cm.
Estimate: €80,000/120,000

Nothing seems to disturb these children at play, not even the sleeping dogs seen at the top of the composition. The very water seems motionless… nor does anyone notice the painter, the unobtrusive witness to these games. Like his contemporaries, Le Van De came from Ben Tre province in Vietnam. Again like them, he was part of the first intake of students at the Fine Arts School of Indochina in 1925, and travelled to Paris for the Colonial Exhibition six years later. Faithful to his Catholic education, he went to Rome to take part in a show in 1936, and first received public acclaim in Europe. On returning to his native soil in 1939, he became director of the Fine Arts School of Saigon. He drew inspiration from Vietnamese and Chinese sources, and, perhaps more than his compatriots, his work was firmly rooted in the traditional art of his country. He was a keen exponent and teacher of painting on silk. Here his palette, composition and touch are reminiscent of Vietnamese lacquers. In 1948, he designed the national flag of Vietnam: a gold background with three horizontal red bands – the country's two traditional colours.

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