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MAI TRUNG THU (1906-1980)
MAI TRUNG THU (1906-1980)

Le pont (The Bridge)

MAI TRUNG THU (1906-1980)
Le pont (The Bridge)
signed and dated 'MAI THU 1956' (lower right)
gouache on silk laid down on cardboard in the original frame by the artist
53.5 x 44.5 cm. (21 1⁄8 x 17 1⁄2 in.)
Painted in 1956
one seal of the artist
Property from the Mildred H. Morse Revocable Trust
Christie's Hong Kong, 28 May 2006, Lot 63
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

Brought to you by

Emmanuelle Chan
Emmanuelle Chan Associate Specialist

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Lot Essay


Mai Thu, proud to be Tonkinese, depicts the mountains of the Middle Region in the distance. Set far back in the scenery, a tomb on the left and a Dinh on the right remind us that we are ephemeral and that the sacred and the secular are complementary since the Dinh (the communal house) is the place where the cult of the tutelary genius is honored as well as the place used as a public space for the villagers. In Le Pont (The Bridge), Mai Thu chose a diaphanous background, already used in some of his earlier works such as Au Bord de l’Étang (By the Pond), painted in 1944 (lot 317). But in this painting, the colours are used to distinguish the characters in motion: blue, red, ochre and white are subtly combined to give this group a particular elegance. They are well-to-do people - as evidenced by their careful dress and posture - who are on their way to a vow ceremony. The girl carries a round wicker box filled with votive paper and offerings. No one knows to which ceremony she is invited to, but one can assume that she is participatingin these visits (tomb, Dinh, pagoda, temple...) on the first day of the Têt.

The oldest woman, equipped with a fan is wearing the Khan m? qu? worn only in North Vietnam and particularly in the countryside. The younger one wears the "khan v?n", a headdress the people of Bac Ninh claim as their creation. The figures, two by two, connect with each other in graceful gestures.

The lacquered and incised frame, made with particular care by Mai Thu, shows a rare originality: it is asymmetrical, the upper part being larger than the lower part. This creates an optical effect by amplifying the surface of the sky.

Elegance, serenity and concentration: a whole multi-millennial civilisation straddles the bamboo bridge. Mai Thu’s whole world : rite and voluptuousness.

Jean-François Hubert,
Senior Expert, Vietnamese Art

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