Vietnamese painting auctioned off for US$1 million

June 15, 2021 - 08:30

The house did not reveal the identity of the buyer.


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 Với Thuyền Buồm (Junk Landscape) was the second-most expensive from Hậu, after the 2019 sale of Cửu Ngư Quần Hội (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 colour palette, the traditional red and black mixed with gold and silver enhanced by an extremely rare 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 Việt Nam’s scenic spots. Lush vegetation like banana leaves, apple blossoms and bamboo emphasises the tropical nature of Việt 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 Tô Chiêm. “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 Ngô Kim Khôi.

“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 Việt Nam and in Paris, especially since he won the Gold Medal at Salon 1935 in Hà Nội."

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 Mùa 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 Lê Phổ, Mai Trung Thứ and Vũ Cao Đàm. – VNS