"From 1950 onwards, Le Pho's palette becomes lighter. The painter adopts the manner of the sketch, or rather of the outline. His pictures are 'boneless'. They have no linear scaffolding. Contact with Bonnard's work played a decisive role in the evolution of the artist. Le Pho began to paint in oil on canvas. He achieved a harmonious synthesis between Chinese painting and Impressionism, or rather Post-Impressionism. If he retains his nostalgia for the country of a thousand flowers, if his figures are modeled from the same stuff as the air which envelopes them and blurs their outlines, if he devotes himself to translating light, that soul of all painting, he never ceases to be himself." (Waldemar George in "Le Pho: The 'Divine Painter'", Le-Pho, Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc, United States, p. 4.)
Whatever the subject of Le Pho's training, it is transformed immediately into an authentic vision of beauty and joie de vivre: everything is illuminated by light, filled with human warmth, gentleness, dreams and lyricism. This is true to his impressionistic garden scenes and floral compositions and equally true to his silk work as exemplified by the present lot. As a material, the smooth and soft surface of the silk gives an immediate softening and shimmering effect to the subject, which is particularly befitting for a subject who is evoked of a bygone era of antiquity.
Born into a family of scholar-gentry status with his father being the viceroy of Tonkin, it was no doubt that the traditional Tonkinese thinking from the 18th century would have an indelible impact on the artist's aesthetics. This is regardless of the artistic training and practice of Western art for Le Pho. Encouraged by his French teachers Victor Tardieu and Joseph Inguimberty at the Beaux Arts of Hanoi, Le Pho pursued his artistic expression with a relentless effort to synthesize both the East and West. The East-West dichotomy could be discussed extensively with the works of Le Pho and it remains at best a superficial observation as it is an apparent quality of the artist's oeuvres.
What is less apparent than the synthesis of styles would be Le Pho's sensitivity towards the inherent philosophy of both the Oriental and Occidental aesthetics. Depicting the sitter in frontal pose, dressed in a traditional costume, her gaze is subtle and soft. Contrary to a Western painting, Oriental portraitures, particularly those of the Chinese of which the Vietnamese modeled after, emphasized only the fine silhouette of the sitter with no regards to perspective or the effect of lighting and shading. The depicted sitter is completely 2 dimensional with a lightness of being reminiscent of the Tang-Song masters of China and thence evoked a sense of classic with the present work. On the other hand, the frontal pose along with the highlight on the elegant figures that hold onto the flowers are unmistakably, a direct influence of the Renaissance masters. Something Oriental and something Occidental, in brief the present work summarizes an artistic tendency of hybrid nature but delivered with such elegance that renders the work with such appeal and conviction.