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TO NGOC VAN (VIETNAM, 1906-1954)
TO NGOC VAN (VIETNAM, 1906-1954)


TO NGOC VAN (VIETNAM, 1906-1954) LE SONGE DU LENDEMAIN (DREAM OF THE FOLLOWING DAY) signed 'To Ngoc Van' (lower right) oil on canvas 47.5 x 40 cm. (18 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.) Painted circa 1940
Acquired directly from the artist by Claude Mahoudeau, Hanoi, 1943
Private collection, Paris, France

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Lot Essay

Tô Ngoc Vân was an immense artist who unfortunately died far too young. He was born in Hanoi and he studied from 1924 to 1927, at the College of the Protectorate before getting admitted into the Fine Arts School of Indochina in Hanoi from which he graduated in 1931). From very early on, he attracted the attention of local but also international collectors through exhibiting his work in numerous international events in Indochina as well as in France and Japan. He was Joseph Inguimberty's favourite student and was awarded a prize by the French Salon des Artistes in Paris in 1932. In 1940, he was appointed as a full-time teacher by the Fine Arts School in Hanoi before moving to Cambodia to take on a position as the director of the Fine Arts School in Phnom Penh. Beyond his visible talent as an artist, Tô Ngoc Vân was an astute art critic who questioned not only his art but also Vietnamese art in general. He was a contributor to the well-known magazines Phong-Hoa, Ngay Nay and Thanh Nghi.

The present lot is an accomplished painting by him. In a play of subtle light, he portrays the young boy with a disillusioned demeanour and simple clothes, as if he was overburdened by life, a symbol perhaps of the harshness of the world. The terracotta pitcher, the wicker basket open showing fruit that seem abandoned, the boy's body posture, contrast with this strong, quasi-messianic light, which floods the room.

With strong realism and symbolism, Le Songe du Lendemain (Dream of the Following Day), is like a summary of Tô Ngoc Vân's thoughts: change and hope will always rise. The renowned French art critic, Claude Mahoudeau, recognised early the quality of Tô Ngoc Vân's works and acquired this touching and inspiring painting directly from the artist.

Jean-François Hubert
Senior Consultant, Vietnamese Art

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