A deceased painter breaks his own record at auction
Famous Vietnamese painter Lê Phổ’s ‘Figures in a Garden’ sold for HK$17.9 million ($2.3 million) at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Art Night Sales in Hong Kong. nearly six times the pre-sale estimate. — Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s
The work sold for HK$17.9 million ($2.3 million) at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Art Night Sales in Hong Kong, almost six times the pre-sale estimate. .
Earlier, Nakedan oil on canvas painting of a nude woman by Lê Phổ sold for nearly $1.4 million at an auction at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2019 and became his most expensive work ever. ‘era.
Figures in a garden, an oil painting on canvas measuring 75x209cm, was part of a private American collection. Lê Phổ’s signature in Vietnamese and Chinese is visible at the bottom right of the painting.
The painting was purchased from the Wally Findlay Gallery in Palm Beach, USA in 1973, belonging to a private collection before being put under the hammer. Its sale marks the second highest price ever paid for a Vietnamese work of art.
Previously, Mai Trung Thứ’s oil on canvas titled Portrait of Miss Phuong (Portrait of Miss Phuong) was also auctioned in Hong Kong for a record price of $3.1 million in April 2021.
“Figures in a garden is the largest known composition by the famous artist and the only three-panel canvas composition to surface on the market. Large-scale and painted with a vibrant, jovial palette, the present work features six life-size figures basking in a blanket of yellow sunshine, set amongst a plethora of flora and foliage in a garden setting. The Figures in a Garden date from the artist’s prolific Findlay period, named after Wally Findlay Galleries, the gallery which represented Le Pho and Vu Cao Dam from 1963. Works from this period are characterized by vivid tones and large oil-on-canvas compositions that have appealed to American collectors,” Sotheby’s writes on its website.
“The artist skillfully imbues the composition with a sense of depth by including a young girl with cascading dark hair dreaming into the distance. She appears almost suspended in the air, bringing a surreal quality to the work.
A painter of women
“The Family Life” fetched over $1 million at Sotheby’s auction in 2017.
Born August 2, 1907 in Hà Nội, Lê Phổ was a prominent Vietnamese painter who developed a successful and prolific career in France, with thousands of works to his credit. His works are highly sought after by art collectors around the world.
The images of Vietnamese women in ao dai (Vietnamese traditional clothing) were the painter’s endless inspiration and frequently featured in his works, which also testify to his longing for his homeland during his years abroad.
In France where Lê Phổ lived and worked, he quickly became popular in the early 1930s when his early works were exhibited and warmly received by French critics and art lovers.
In his paintings, the artist has always depicted the most beautiful, elegant, sincere and pure images of Vietnamese women, thus expressing his love and admiration as well as his thoughts and feelings.
The images of Vietnamese women depicted in the early stages of his paintings (1934-45) were often fragile, elegant and soft. In the following period, since the 1950s, his oil paintings always put the woman in the center but incorporate more liberal strokes.
At painting auctions at two of the world’s most prestigious auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Lê Phổ’s works have received great attention from collectors and have consistently set price records.
He is the first Vietnamese artist to have sold paintings for $1 million and above at public auction. Some of his typical works include Family life which grossed over a million dollars, Naked which was sold for $1.4 million and A self-portrait in the forest for $1.052 million.