Lot 1061
  • 1061

NGUYEN GIA TRI | Landscape

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Nguyen Gia Tri
  • Landscape
  • Signed and dated 1944
  • Lacquer on wood
  • 58 by 120 cm; 22 3/4  by 47 in. 


There is evidence of wear, chipping and losses along the edges of the work due to abrasions with the frame, but this does not affect the overall image as they are covered by the frame itself. There are two horizontal cracks to the lacquer at the center of the work. All other inconsistencies are due to the nature of the medium and consistent with the age of the work. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals no sign of restoration as viewed. Framed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Amidst A Landscape of Light
Intricate yet understated, the allure of Nguyen Gia Tri’s lacquer paintings lies within his tender and masterful experimentations with traditional Vietnamese art forms. This present masterpiece is an expressive navigation of Gia Tri’s cultural influences and artistic flair, and is a visual homage to his fond memories of Vietnam. Born in 1908 to a family of Imperial craftsmen, Gia Tri’s upbringing equipped him with a rich and skilled understanding of technical artistry. Under the mentorship of French artists, such as Joseph Inguimberty and Victor Tardieu, Gia Tri graduated from the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine, where he was driven to push the boundaries of traditional decorative handcrafts. By the mid-1930s, Gia Tri had already established his name as one of the greatest artists in Vietnam, particularly for his revolutionary synthesis of French and Vietnamese approaches to the medium of lacquer painting. During the first half of the 20th century, waves of liberal nationalism spread across Vietnam, and many artists joined the resistance movement. Subsequently, Gia Tri’s works served as visual meditations of his nationalistic sentiments, as he gravitated towards the incorporation of raw materials and elements, from soft greys to pearly silvers to golds, to create a broader color palette. Heralded as Gia Tri’s golden period, the works made during 1937-1945 are indicative of his patriotic spirit and ineffable love for his country. His golden period bore works depicting picturesque scenes of the landscapes, villages and families of Vietnam, all of which hold the boundless ability to transport viewers to moments of provincial peace.

This present work is a mesmerizing and emotionally powerful masterpiece that was executed during Gia Tri’s golden period. It is an illustrative depiction of a rural riverside, where hills, hidden behind soft wisps of clouds, serve as the dream-like backdrop. Gia Tri’s works are a flirtation with escapism; in this painting, he removes all traces of civility to depict an idyllic countryside, one that is freed from the complications of humanity and the tumultuous war. Despite being faced with a limited access to colors, Gia Tri still managed to establish pictorial depth by drawing from a range of unique materials: crushed and inlaid eggshells, mother-of-pearl and black resin lacquer. Hidden amongst the shadows carved by the hills and vegetation, these tones of brown and maroon, juxtaposed with the luminosity of gold pigments, emulate the vibrant beauty of Vietnam. Observe the meticulously placed specks of leaves, dotted across the earthy meadow, to form the details of the scattered foliage. Gia Tri’s unmistakable strokes of pigments paint the sky with iridescent hues of gold, conjuring a masterpiece of transcendental fluidity. As the colors of the sky melt into the ground, the landscape merges into the center of the painting, where a tree, adorned with luminous clusters of golden leaves, stands. This point of convergence is subtle yet captivating, and one cannot help but to think that perhaps it is with this tree that Gia Tri attempts to elucidate his unwavering sentiments of nationalism. Undeterred by its dark surroundings, the tree basks, solemnly, in an incandescent ring of light – conceivably symbolic of the resilience and patriotism of the people of Vietnam. Here, we see how Gia Tri’s love for technical hybridity, with his pronounced use of engraving methods and modernist abstract composition, imbues this work of art with a poignant quality and grandeur. Gia Tri’s delicate interweaving of gold pigments within the dark wooden panel provides the painting with an incomparable juxtaposition and radiance. The subtle variance in tones, from the darkened silhouettes of the hilltops, to the blurred greys of the passing clouds, all compose a landscape deep in tranquility.

When looking at this rare and treasured masterpiece, Gia Tri’s careful mastery of both French and Vietnamese art forms is exquisite and unparalleled. His rendering of the lustrous landscapes of Vietnam, serenely undisturbed by the dangers of warfare is emblematic of a peaceful oasis, one that exists in eternality. This work of art is truly a love letter to Vietnam’s immortalized magnificence and beauty, as every shade of gold, maroon and brown traverse along the bucolic countryside of Gia Tri’s idyllic youth.