MAI TRUNG THỨ (1906-1980)

Lot 14
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Estimation :
50000 - 80000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 67 600EUR
MAI TRUNG THỨ (1906-1980)
La leçon, 1940 Ink and color on silk, signed and dated lower right 36,8 x 26,2 cm - 14 1/2 x 10 5/16 in. MAI TRUNG THỨ Born in 1906 near Haiphong, Mai Trung Thứ attended the French high-school in Hanoi. Like Lê Phổ, Vũ Cao Đàm and Lê Văn Đệ, he was in the first year of students at the École des Beaux-Arts d’Indochine, founded and directed by the painter Victor Tardieu. Invited to take part in the 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition, Mai Trung Thứ discovered and fell in love with France, where he settled in the late 30’s and stayed until he died. Although strongly influenced by the teachings of Tardieu and Joseph Inguimberty, he is the one of his comrades who retained the deepest-rooted sense of Vietnamese identity. He soon abandoned oils for gouache and ink on silk: typical Asian techniques that enabled him to develop a style richly reminiscent of traditional Chinese and Vietnamese art. Although an independent artist, he remained politically committed and concerned about the future of his country. While Mai Trung Thứ is known for his delicate compositions of elegant young women, or gentle maternities, he has also focused on depicting children as proper subjects. Playing, studying or pensive, they are a favorite theme of the artist. In the late 1930s, Mai Trung Thứ moved to France permanently. During these same years, his style was forged. His characters are easily identifiable: their faces are round, their eyes large and elongated while their hair takes up the same hairstyle. The attributes of the child depicted in The Lesson were common in these years, and many works from 1940-1941 have a model wearing a yellow and white outfit with a similar face. Here the girl is leaning in, lost in thought. The open notebook on the table reveals a drawing of a man wearing palms and the inscription Bài học meaning « lesson ». Mai Trung Thu’s literate upbringing allows him to faithfully reproduce the education transmitted to children in his country. The neutral background allows a simplification of the composition characteristic of this period. During these years, the artist still dates his works with Roman numerals. The artist’s work here is of a very high quality of execution, his line precise and assured. The charm and exoticism of Mai Trung Thứ’s works allowed him to exhibit as soon as he arrived in France. Eighty years later, the undeniable freshness of The Lesson was noticed at the retrospective exhibition in Macon in 2021.
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