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10 paintings by exiled Vietnamese king garner $165,000 at French auction

Updated: 15:50, 12/04/2024

10 artworks by King Ham Nghi presented at a sale conducted by the French auction house Lynda Trouvé amassed a total of 152,000 euros (US$165,000).

Lynda Trouvé revealed the results of the April 5 "Indochine - Chapitre 17" (Indochina - Chapter 17) auction, which featured the artworks by King Ham Nghi, on Monday.

"The Pasture," completed by King Ham Nghi in 1909, was sold for 31,000 euros.

Among the king’s artworks, "The Pasture" led the sales, achieving 31,000 euros. It was initially anticipated to bring in between 10,000-15,000 euros.

Following closely was "Promenade on the Banks of the Allier," which fetched 26,000 euros, significantly exceeding its forecasted price range of 3,000-5,000 euros.

Prices for the remaining paintings by the king ranged from 8,000 to 19,000 euros, making all of them auctioned off for sums surpassing their initial estimates.

Fine arts researcher Ngo Kim Khoi noted that the king’s use of purplish or pastel hues across all 10 paintings induces a sense of melancholy in the observer. He argued that the selection of colors reflects the king’s extensive research and genuine passion for painting, despite his lack of formal artistic education.

The historical significance of King Ham Nghi’s artworks has also been highlighted by Khoi, who commended their aesthetic and cultural value.

"His paintings will probably garner even greater amounts in the future, potentially surpassing the 31,000 euros mark," the researcher said.

Lynda Trouvé also managed the sale of 19 pieces of the king’s art in a previous auction at Paris’ Drouot Hotel last September. The paintings collectively drew 330,000 euros, with the top-selling piece reaching 38,000 euros.

The auction not only showcased King Ham Nghi’s 10 paintings but also displayed 259 pieces of Indochina art, including 19th-century porcelain teapots and betel boxes.

Featured as well were creations by famed Vietnamese artists like Mai Thu, Le Pho, Nguyen Phan Chanh, and Nguyen Van Ty. A silk painting by Nguyen Phan Chanh titled "After Duty" achieved the auction’s highest bid of 102,000 euros, vastly outstripping its initial estimate of 8,000-12,000 euros.

Born in 1871, Ham Nghi was the eighth monarch among the 13 rulers of the Nguyen dynasty in Hue, Annam, reigning from 1802 to 1945. He ascended to the throne in 1884 at the tender age of 13, only to be dethroned a year later.

The French exiled him to Algeria, then a French colony in 1888. He was subsequently permitted to leave Algeria to visit other countries, including France, albeit under French governmental oversight.

While in France, he studied art at a workshop run by Maurius Reynard, a well-known artist, and delved into sculpture as well.

He succumbed to cancer in 1944.

Source: VnExpress

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