Vietnamese painting auctioned off for US$1 million
The lacquer painting Junk Landscape by Phạm Hậu.
HÀ NỘI — A lacquer painting by Phạm Hậu sold for 833,000 euros (US$1 million) at an auction held by French auction house Aguttes.
The house did not reveal the identity of the buyer.
The painting Phong Cảnh Voi Thuyền Buồm (Junk Landscape) was second-most expensive from Hậu, after the 2019 sale of Cửu Ngư Quần Hoi (Nine Carps in The Water) at $1.1 million by Sotheby's Hong Kong.
According to the auction house, the painting is a perfect testament to a new generation of Vietnamese artists trained at the Indochina School of Fine Arts. Teaching at the school gave Phạm Hậu the richness of his color palette, the traditional red and black mixed with gold and silver enhanced by a scarce blue giving completely new shades and more contrast.
The house also said the lacquer painting forms a screen with four vertical format panels showing the beauty of Viet Nam’s scenic spots. Lush vegetation like banana leaves, apple blossoms, and bamboo emphasizes the tropical nature of Viet Nam.
Painted in 1943 by the artist, the work includes four pieces paying homage to the beauty of the Vietnamese landscape with turquoise waters, traditional junks, and rocks.
“The painting is the standard for Vietnamese lacquer fine arts,” said artist To Chiem. “It was made with traditional lacquer technique and material.”
The painting, sized at 104cm by 197.6cm, had a starting price of 150,000 euros to 250,000 euros.
“Phạm Hậu’s reputation in the current painting market is undisputed, especially since lacquer paintings took the throne at international auction floor,” said fine art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi.
“He was famous for putting lacquer on paintings as well as applying it to commonly used items such as beds, cabinets, trays.
“He soon succeeded with exhibitions in Viet Nam and Paris, especially since he won the Gold Medal at Salon 1935 in Ha Noi."
Phạm Hậu (1903 – 1995) was one of the pioneers in lacquer painting. He created many beautiful artworks and large partitions and won several prestigious awards from 1935-1945.
He studied at the Indochina Fine Arts School from 1929 to 1934, the same generation of painters Trần Văn Cẩn and Nguyễn Đỗ Cung.
In the mid-1930s, he set up his first lacquer painting studio. He drafted a textbook that laid the theoretical foundation for the teaching of lacquer art.
His painting Gió Mua Hạ (Summer Wind) earned him the State Award for Literature and Arts in 2012.
On the auction on June 7, the session also featured several other works by Vietnamese artists, including Le Phổ, Mai Trung Thu, and Vũ Cao Đam. – VNS
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