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Le Pho (1907-2001)

Jeune fille au treillage de bétel

Ink and color on silk, signed upper left titled on the back

30 x 24 cm - 11 3/4 x 9 3/8 in.

Considered as one of the leading figures of modern Vietnamese art, Lê Phổ was born in 1907 in Hà Tây province into a respected mandarin family, his father being the last viceroy of Tonkin. Showing a predisposition for painting and drawing, he entered the first class of the Indochina School of Fine Arts in 1925. He was soon noticed by the director and founder of the school, Victor Tardieu, for whom he retained a strong attachment throughout his life. Lê Phổ assimilated to perfection the teachings of his teachers. The school promoted Vietnamese artistic traditions such as painting on silk or lacquer, while sensitizing this new generation of artists to Western history and artistic techniques. Indeed, one can read with ease the influences of the Italian Primitives or the Impressionists in Lê Phổ ‘s works. In 1931, he came to France to present his works on the occasion of the International Colonial Exhibition. He chose to stay in Paris for a year to attend classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, then undertook several trips to Europe. He returned to Vietnam in 1933 and taught at the Indochina School of Fine Arts in Hanoi. He decided to settle permanently in France in 1937 and quickly gained a certain notoriety.

Produced around 1940, Jeune fille au treillage de bétel is a remarkable example of the artist’s perfect mastery of ink and colour on silk. This technique was learned during his training at the Indochina School of Fine Arts and was developed under the guidance of the school’s director, Victor Tardieu. The process consists of applying black ink, coloured ink or gouache to silk in successive washes, and brings an unstoppable softness and delicacy to the works. The works of Lê Phổ, which are marked by an evolution of his style over the years, give pride of place to silk, particularly in his early years of practice. The work presented for sale is part of this period.

Although the representation of the female model is a constant in his work, the artist endeavours to introduce distinct elements making each composition a unique painting. In Jeune fille au treillage de bétel (Young Girl with Betel Trellis), Lê Phổ offers a rare vision in which his attachment to his native land is manifested through various symbols. A young woman stands on a trellis made of bamboo, an Asian plant par excellence. Around this trellis is wrapped Bethel, a liana that also originates from South-East Asia where it is often used as a chewing paste. The young woman’s face is in keeping with the Asian canons: oval-shaped, with almond-shaped eyes and a thin mouth to complete this delicate portrait. Her porcelain complexion contrasts delicately with the ebony of her hair. She wears a turban characteristic of Vietnamese women. If the references to Asia are undeniable, other influences can be guessed. Marked by the discovery of the old masters and more particularly by the Italians of the 16th century, Lê Phổ also relies on the mannerist lesson. From these painters, he retains the serpentine line that undulates here from the entangled hands to the body position. The movement of the scarf and its detail evokes the wet drapery of the Greeks. Through a clever mix of influences, Lê Phổ manages to pay homage to his culture while honouring the ancients, but above all he immortalizes his vision of female beauty

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Le Pho (1907-2001)

Estimate 100 000 - 120 000 EUR

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Location of the item :
France - 92200 - neuilly-sur-seine

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For sale on Thursday 02 Jun - 15:00 (CEST)
neuilly-sur-seine, France
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