L’anneau de jade, Vence, 1955
Oil on panel, signed, located and dated lower left
41 x 33 cm - 16 1/8 x 13 in.
L’anneau de jade illustrates a passage from the Vietnamese poem Truyện Kiều (Kieu’s Tale) or Kim-Vân-Kiêu written by Nguyễn Du (1765-1820) in the early 19th century. This essential work in Vietnamese literature, is written in verse. Based on an ancient Chinese story, the poem is marked by the Confucian principles that govern Vietnamese culture. It tells the story of a beautiful and talented young girl, Kim, who sacrifices herself for filial piety, an essential value in Confucianism. The influence and impact of this work continues to be felt by Vietnamese expatriates. Although a French resident since the late 1930s, Vu Cao Dam remains deeply attached to his native land and finds inspiration in this tale. Taking up a passage from Chapter V, the artist immortalizes his vision of the story. Kim and Kieu meet during a walk and fall in love with each other. The young poet decides to declare himself and his commitment by offering two gold bracelets. In L’anneau de jade, the artist replaces the characters according to tradition, but also breaks free by representing a bracelet not made of gold but of jade. This highly symbolic choice recalls the attachment of Eastern culture to this stone charged with meaning. Spiritual and royal, it affirms the artist’s inclination and respect for his country. Taking up a characteristic style through an emblematic palette, faces full of softness but also this clean brushed touch, L’anneau de jade is part of a pivotal period. Made in the mid-1950s, it illustrates the artist’s explorations towards oil painting.
Just as Nguyễn Du whose illustrated copy of the manuscript bound in a yellow silk cover is kept in the British Library, Vu Cao Dam leaves to posterity a fine example of Vietnamese cultural heritage.