In Indochina, reality is as beautiful as myth

On 05 April 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim
Tran Binh Loc (1914-1941), "Portrait d’une élégante", 1937, oil on canvas, 153 x 103,5 cm (detail).
Result: €520,700

It was already the sixth sale in this event entitled "Indochine, mythes et réalités 1800-1960". As ever, the same perfume of nostalgia – and success – imbued its contents, consisting of a skilful combination of paintings, lacquers, mementos from the Hue court, photographs and posters. This time, two days were needed to disperse 583 lots, ending with a total sale result close to €2 M: €1,968,145, to be precise. Monday 1 April saw a procession of mementos from Denis Frères, one of the largest French companies established in the colony from 1862 to 1954. These fetched between €100 and €12,700. Then the imperial Hue court (1802-1945) came on the scene with a baluster-shaped porcelain vase (h. 56 cm) sporting a long tapering neck and several dragons frolicking on the glowing yellow background of its belly. The final bid was €53,340. Then the spotlight turned on the Fine Arts School of Hanoi, which once again revealed a splendid talent and provided a world record (source: Artnet) for an elegant unknown woman by Tran Binh Loc (1914-1941) at €520,700 (see photo), establishing its artist, who died prematurely at 27, as one of the greatest names regularly cited in these pages. Lê Thi Luu (1911-1988), the first Vietnamese woman painter to make a career after graduating in 1932, was represented by two portraits, one of a "Jeune femme aux fleurs" (€45,720) and one of a "Grand-mère tonkinoise" (€25,400). Lastly, the delicate ancestral art of lacquer revealed some magnificent achievements in turn. Obviously, a highlight was the group of fifteen panels of the "Cho-Bo Rapids on the Noire River" by Nguyen Van Ty (1917-1992): a sizeable piece (150 x 375 cm) which swept up to €381,000 – obtaining another world record on the way.

Monday 01 April 2019 - 14:00 - Live
9, rue Drouot 75009 Paris
Lynda Trouvé
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