To the sound of Vietnamese music

On 28 June 2019, by Caroline Legrand

Mai Thu's work consists mainly of portraits of women and children. But now a rare horizontal composition of women singing, dancing and playing instruments is coming up for sale in Honfleur. 

Mai Trung Thu dit Mai Thu (1906-1980), Jeunes musiciennes danseuses dans un jardin (Young women musician dancers in a garden), ca. 1940, ink and gouache on silk, 95 x 68 cm.
Estimate: €50,000/80,000

Bidding during the last two years has proved the immense popularity of this artist. As we remember, at Aguttes's sale on 26 March 2018 at Drouot, €297,080 went to a 1946 ink and colour painting on silk entitled Instant musical (A musical interlude). The same theme turns up again with this fine composition in browns focused on the colourful, undulating silhouettes of four women. It reflects the pleasant lifestyle in Vietnam, the country Mai Thu left in 1937 to attend the Exposition Internationale in Paris. He then decided to live in France. This was the start of a highly successful career for the painter, who graduated in 1930 as one of the first students at the Hanoi College of Fine Arts founded by Victor Tardieu and Nguyen Nam Son, then taught drawing at Hue. He rapidly achieved recognition for his works, which used a singular technique: painting on silk with further washes and frottage to soften the tones. But this multifaceted artist was also a photographer, film-maker and acclaimed musician, and regularly gave concerts playing the doc-huyen, a Vietnamese one-stringed instrument.

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