Portrait by late Vietnamese painter to be auctioned in Hong Kong

A portrait, titled La Joconde (Mona Lisa), by late painter Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) will be available for bidding on May 24 as part of the Christie’s Hong Kong Spring Auctions.

Painted in 1974, it was made of ink and gouache on silk.

With a guide price of HKD2.5 – 3.5 million (US$321,00 – 450,000), insiders said the painting is likely to fetch up to US$1.2 million.

“We can imagine Mai Thu discovering and visiting often the original Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre, from his stay in Paris in 1937 to 1974, the date of execution of his own painting. There is no doubt that he scrutinized it, in all the lights of day, in all seasons, indulging in a continuous and attentive observation. A piety. He is 68 years old, at the peak of his art (widely recognized) and yet, like a student in a workshop, he launches into the reproduction of the most famous painting in the world,” Jean-François Hubert, a senior expert on Vietnamese Art said in his lot essay published on Christie’s website for the auction of the painting.

In April, Thu’s oil painting on canvas entitled Portrait de Mademoiselle Phuong (Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong) was sold at an auction of Sotheby's Hong Kong for a record price of US$3.1 million, the highest price paid for Vietnamese art.

Also on auction with La Joconde on May 24 are three masterpieces by other late Vietnamese painters - Les Teinturières (Dyers at Work) by Nguyen Phan Chanh (1892-1984) as well as Jeune femme attachant son foulard (Young Lady Tying Her Scarf) and Le Bol Bleu (The Blue Bowl) by Le Pho (1907-2001).

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