Modern Discoveries | Encounters

Modern Discoveries | Encounters

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 2020. Maison des Beaux Arts de L’Indochine 中南半島美術學院 | View of a Landscape of the Middle Region of North Vietnam 北越中部風光.

Maison des Beaux Arts de L’Indochine

Maison des Beaux Arts de L’Indochine 中南半島美術學院 | View of a Landscape of the Middle Region of North Vietnam 北越中部風光

Lot Closed

July 29, 03:19 AM GMT


800,000 - 1,500,000 HKD

Lot Details


Maison des Beaux Arts de L’Indochine

View of a Landscape of the Middle Region of North Vietnam

lacquer on wood, in six parts

stamped with an MBAI seal on the reverse 

each: 100 by 32 cm; 39 ⅜ by 12 ⅝ in.

overall: 100 by 193 cm; 39 ⅜ by 76 in. 






每扇:100 x 32 cm; 39 ⅜ x 12 ⅝ in.

整體: 100 x 193 cm; 39 ⅜ x 76 in.

Gifted to the previous owners, Hong Kong (1926 -1955)

Private Collection, USA




Vietnamese lacquer artists are highly regarded for their talents with the material as an art form. No longer perceived as merely decorative works of art, lacquer pieces have become a part of the country’s art history. Lacquer itself is made up from the resin of trees that are only native to Asia. In Vietnam the tree is known as Rhus succedanea. The tradition of local lacquer painting is more than 2,000 years old, dating as far back as the Ly dynasty in the 11th century where the material was used in palaces and temples.

Throughout its history lacquer has evolved as a creative medium, and one that has become a part of the Vietnamese cultural identity. However it was during the early 20thcentury that saw lacquer painting reach new heights, with the thirties and forties celebrated as the Golden Age of Vietnamese lacquer painting.

The present work View of a Landscape of the Middle Region of North Vietnam was created during this period, and perfectly exemplifies the favored aesthetics and themes that would come to define modern lacquer paintings. The current work is a depiction of a local junk boat upon a river in the midlands of North Vietnam, complimented by the nearby fishing village, the lush tropical foliage and the mountains in the distance. The presence of the village women amidst the palm trees further enhances the gentle quietude of the landscape.

Though the boat may be the focal point of the composition, the local vegetation of the bamboo and banana trees, the young maidens conversing with each other, the houses upon the water, as well as the presence of the far off mountains, provide the audience with many vignettes to which they can draw their attention too. The work is an aesthetical expression of the highest means: “Dark color as dark as shadows at night... brilliancy as that of a yellow leaf under the sun... and gold that seems to fly up to give the picture balance and unity— one has the feeling of touching velvet, satin, porcelain and precious stones…1.

View of a Landscape of the Middle Region of North Vietnam is a special piece for it was a collaborative effort of artist-students from Maison des Beaux Arts de L'Indochine (MBAI). Much of Vietnamese lacquer works were independent projects, however a few pieces were created by a group of artisans that applied their skills and finesse to one work of art. The present piece was created under the guidance of Vietnamese painters Pham Hau and Nguyen Gia Tri. The two individuals were important in the modernization of lacquer as an art form, paving the way for future Vietnamese artists who chose to experiment with the material. The signature “MBAI” further signifies that the present piece was a collective work, thought out and produced by the students from that school.

While respected as a national craft that was inherently seen as Vietnamese, lacquer painting did not undergo a transformation until the influence of French artists Joseph Inguimberty and Victor Tardieu. Also teachers at Maison des Beaux Arts de L'Indochinee, the two men encouraged Vietnamese artists to explore the material, and challenge existing themes and styles that were the foundations of lacquer works at that time.

1Truong Hanh, Painters of The Fine Arts College of Indochina, Cartographic Mapping Institute, Hanoi, 1993, p. 27.