Lot 1003
  • 1003

SANYU | Lectrice à la jupe jaune

400,000 - 600,000 HKD
1,375,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Sanyu
  • Lectrice à la jupe jaune
  • signed in Chinese and French
  • ink and watercolour on paper
  • 50.0 by 31.6 cm; 19 ⅝ by 12 ½ in. 
executed in 1920-30s


Hôtel Drouot Auction, Paris, September 1966
Collection of Jacques Nieszawer
Important Private Collection


Rita Wong, ed., Sanyu Catalogue Raisonné: Drawings and Watercolors, The Li Ching Cultural and Educational Foundation, Taipei, 2014, plate W134, p. 231

Catalogue Note

Lectrice à la jupe jaune (Lot 1003) was also painted in the 1920s, but compared to the other two watercolour sketches, this work expresses a different tone. The model with a book in her hands seems gentle and sophisticated, with a distinctive temperament. Her iconic hair, short and wavy, confirms that she is Marcelle Charlotte Guyot de la Hardrouyère, a French woman who Sanyu met in the 1920s and eventually married. They met while Sanyu was studying at Académie de la Grande Chaumière; Marcelle was deeply impressed by Sanyu's adept sketching skills. A mutual desire to learn from one another led to a profound connection between the two. Sanyu's sketch is tender, respectful, and infused with his feelings of anxious excitement. It was likely done soon after the two met. Marcelle's head and gaze are lowered as she focuses on her book. Perhaps due to the artist's scrutinizing eyes, her cheeks are pink, and a subtle erotic tension characterizes the overall tableau. Western art history is not lacking in portrayals of female readers, implying that women must be autodidacts in a patriarchal society. Ancient Chinese portraits of ladies emphasize their elegance and dignity in order to extol the virtue and wisdom of their noble subjects. This artwork depicts Marcelle's bearing and submissive, intelligent beauty. Formally, it invokes both Chinese and Western artistic motifs, combining the quintessence of both traditions to remould the image of the modern woman.