Nicknamed "the painter of beauty", the Vietnamese artist was the ambassador of his country's traditions.
Luong Xuan Nhi (1913-2006), Le Tricot, 1941, ink and colors on silk, signed, dated and monogrammed, 65.5 x 40.5 cm/25.8 x 15.9 in.
This event duly attracted lovers of Vietnamese art, enabling the sale to raise €4.939 M including fees. The first part of the sale focused on painters, most of whom studied at the Hanoi School of Fine Arts. It brought Luong Xuan Nhi—not often seen on the market—a world record with Le Tricot (Knitting), an intimate work that fetched €756,440 after a high estimate of €200,000. Acquired directly from the painter and remaining in the same family until now, it depicts the daily life of a young woman from a wealthy background (as witness her ao dai, gold necklace and elegant hairstyle) in the early 1940s. In 1936, Luong Xuan Nhi's refined work was acclaimed with a gold medal at the Salon of the Annamese Society for the Encouragement to Art and Industry in Hanoi.
Mai Trung Thu came next with La Cérémonie du thé (The Tea Ceremony: 55.8 x 55.8 cm/22 x 22 in), which fetched €718,160, taking the painting to second place among the artist's best auction results. Expected to make around €40,000, another of his works shot up to €322,600: his Composition à l'hortensia (Composition with Hydrangea: 60.5 x 45.5 cm/23.8 x 17.9 in, see photo). Vu Cao Dam was right behind him at €309,840 with Culte des ancêtres (The Cult of the Ancestors: 78.5 x 47.5 cm/30.9 x 18.7 in. visible). French artists were also in the running, with Évariste Jonchère obtaining €58,500 for the bronze of his Congaïe couture (Congaïe Sewing), a 1940 sculpture of a young Vietnamese woman cast by E. Godard (62 x 21 x 21 cm/24.4 x 8.3 x 8.3 in), and Alix Aymé €26,000 for her painting of Les Toits de Yunnanfou (The Roofs of Yunnan-Fu) (60.3 x 69.3 cm/23.7 x 27.3 in).
The second part of the auction devoted to objets d'art was a great success, with an 18th/19th-century folding screen garnering €224,400. Made of richly carved wood, this is inlaid with fourteen blue and white porcelain plates illustrating landscapes and Vietnamese legends.