Le Pho 黎譜 | Vietnamese lady 越南女士
Property from an Important Private American Collection
1907 - 2001
ink and gouache on silk
signed Le Pho, painted with the artist's seal (lower right)
painted circa 1938
28.5 by 23.5 cm; 11 ¼ by 9 ¼ in.
1907 - 2001年
黎譜 Le Pho（右下）
28.5 x 23.5 cm; 11 ¼ x 9 ¼ in.
This work is in good overall condition as viewed.
The silk is mounted to paper and some of the paper backing can be seen at the top right corner as it is not covered completely by the frame.
There is a spot of media accretion at the bottom center edge of the work, likely inherent to the artist's working method.
There is a small horizontal scratch at the lower left quadrant of the work on the white dress.
Upon close inspection and bright light, there is a spot of foxing to the silk on the chin of the lady.
Inspection under ultraviolet light shows no signs of restoration.
Framed, under plexiglass.
Paper dimensions: 32 x 35 cm
Framed dimensions: 62.5 x 55 cm.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Private Collection, USA (acquired directly from: Christie's Singapore, 28 September 1997, Lot 733）
Private Collection, USA（acquired directly from: Christie's Hong Kong, 26 November 2017, Lot 408)
Important Private American Collection (acquired directly from the sale above)
Scheveningen, The Netherlands, VSB Circustheater, De schilderkunst van Vietnam, 1 November - 30 November 1997, illustrated in the catalogue, page 4
荷蘭 席凡寧根 VSB 劇場 〈越南繪畫藝術〉1997年11月1-30日，展覽圖錄彩圖，4頁
Exquisitely painted and exceptionally rare, Le Pho’s Vietnamese Lady epitomizes his unparalleled technical mastery in handling silk as a medium. Featuring a young lady garbed in a white ao dai, gazing towards the viewer, the present lot showcases Le Pho’s ability to articulate the beauty of feminine mystique in a delicate manner. Painted in 1938, Vietnamese Lady is an early work hailing from a crucial period in the artist’s oeuvre.
A classically trained painter who was one of the first graduates of the École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine in Hanoi, Le Pho received the highbrow tutelage of prominent French artists Victor Tardieu and Joseph Inguimberty. Together with Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam and Nguyen Phan Chanh, Le Pho was part of the pioneering wave of modern artists who formed a new creative identity that diverged from the more decorative indices of traditional crafts. Synthesizing their training in French aesthetics with Vietnamese techniques and themes, these artists developed fresh approaches and paved a new direction in their country’s art history.
Le Pho was born in 1907 to the Viceroy of Tonkin during the reign of Emperor Ham Nghi. Le Pho quickly garnered popularity for his charming vignettes of domestic life rendered in a truly distinct style. In 1932, he was granted a scholarship to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was able to witness the masterworks of French artistic techniques first-hand. The artist’s idyllic depictions of life have come to represent a window into Vietnam’s days of yore from the early 19th century to the early forties, a period that remained untouched by foreign colonialization or the local infighting brought on by opposing political agendas. In 1937 Le Pho left Vietnam amidst the outbreak of war and developed a career in Paris, remaining in Europe for the rest of his life.
Vietnamese lady was painted one year after his migration to Paris, when his budding career was on the verge of blossoming. In France, Le Pho found himself in the focal point of the art world, where many aspiring creatives flocked to revel in cultural freedom. Along with many foreign and local artists, he found himself in a sizzling melting pot of culture in a place brimming with opportunity. In 1938, the same year as this work, he held first one-man show, which served as his first step towards a successful painting career in Europe. Thereafter, he held exhibitions in in Algiers (1941), Paris (1945), Brussels (1948), San Francisco (1962), and New York (1963) and his oeuvre traversed geographical boundaries - a testament to his international influence. Le Pho quickly became the embodiment of the voice of the Vietnamese diaspora.
The present lot offers a close glimpse into a private moment: the picture plane is dominated by the female figure, whose features are delicate, and countenance unfettered. She sits upright and poised on a traditional wooden chair, as she faces the viewer. Le Pho’s consummate mastery of silk painting is evident in this sublime work. He uses a subtle, diaphanous colour palette that complements the delicate nature of silk, lending the painting an ethereal quality. Le Pho’s delicate brushstrokes and the use of solid colours recall the tenets of traditional Chinese ink paintings. A work of timeless beauty, Vietnamese Lady renders a window into the idyllic existence of the Vietnamese elite and the rich history of Vietnam’s treasured past.