LE PHO (1907-2001)
Property from the Tholance-Lorenzi Collection
LE PHO (1907-2001)


LE PHO (1907-2001)
signed, dated and inscribed 'Le Pho Bac Ninh 1935' (lower right)
oil on canvas
61 x 61 cm. (24 x 24 in.)
Painted in 1935
Acquired directly from the artist, thence by descent to the present owner

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Lot Essay

France, Vietnam, and at to a larger extent Indochina, have experienced rich and intertwining histories that continue to today. The discovery and passion for Vietnamese art however, is a story not oft explored.

Orsolla Guglielmi (1888-1968), was born in a small village in Corsica, France where she married Paul Lorenzi. Widowed early by the loss of Paul Lorenzi during the First World War, Mrs Lorenzi met and remarried Auguste Tholance (1878-1938). Tholance had arrived in Vietnam earlier in the century, and was on the way to a promising career as a French public servant. They both had a passion for art as well as a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture. The twenties in Vietnam saw a great flourishing of the arts, and this period of discovery and inspired the couple to begin a lifetime of collecting Vietnamese art and artifacts. They initially started collecting Vietnamese ceramics, but it would be in paintings, however, that their true passions lay.

It was Mrs Orsolla-Tholance who encouraged the governor general of Hanoi in 1924 to begin the Fine Art School of Indochina, under the guidance of Victor Tardieu. This institution would later become the centre for many of the great Vietnamese artists of the 20th Century. Auguste Tholance proved to be an outstanding public servant, and in 1929, became the Cochinchina governor, and eventually the rsident suprieur of Tonkin from 1930 to 1937. During these years, the couple developed a deep understanding of the context and nuances of art in Vietnam as they met artists, followed their exhibitions, promoted their work, and along the way, acquired some of the finest masterpieces of Vietnamese art from artists such as Le Pho and Nguyen Phan Chanh.

The couple also came to acquire works that captured the essence of Vietnam, such as in Dan Hoai Ngoc and Nguyen Phan Chanh's intimate landscapes that perfectly describe the freshness and spontaneity of the Tonkin countryside. They were also attuned to the charm and solemnity of the Vietnamese interior, favouring works such as At the Temple (Lot 335) by Nguyen Tuong Lan, a rare and beautiful scene set in a pagoda, and the Woman at the Shrine (Lot 336) by L Yen.

For its intriguing personal history, its depth, and its representation of the most renowned Vietnamese artists working at the time, the Tholance-Lorenzi Collection brings together a selection of works which are an extraordinary testament to Vietnamese painting during the first half of the 20th century.

Written by Jean-Franois Hubert , Senior Consultant, Vietnamese Art

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