Le Pho’s ink and gouache on silk interpretations of feminine beauty are one of the most sought-after subject matters in his prolific oeuvre. Created after the early period of Le Pho’s artistic journey, Reclining Lady is considered a rare embodiment of Le Pho’s pivotal move from his elegant early works to the Romanet period. The name of the period was taken from the name of a French gallery who had been a long-time advisor and promoter to Le Pho and his works during his stay in Paris.
Reclining Lady is a portrayal of a modern Vietnamese beauty reposing on the ground with a black jacket as her mat and using her arms as a cushion to rest her head. Mist seen moving closer to the ground that glisten with hints of yellow, defining some detail of the soil and rocks. Contrasting to the early works of Le Pho’s feminine portraiture, the woman figure portrayed in the recent lot is rather plump. Thick band of grey outline lightly defining the elegant woman figure and the surrounding foliage. Additionally, the character of Le Pho’s brushwork in the painting is expressionistic and mainly used by the painter as a refinement to the woman’s curvaceous figure, applied to the clothing of the woman with uneven shading. This characteristic of Le Pho’s rugged brushwork marked the start of Romanet Period.
Stylistically, the composition and choice of colour in this painting is shifting from the early works of Le Pho during the mentorship of Victor Tardieu and Joseph Inguimberty which are subtle in both composition and tones. Colour in the present lot is rather unusual to Le Pho’s artistic approach and symbolic instead of being just descriptive. Presumably, colours used in Le Pho’s painting during the Romanet period is the artist’s interpretation of his concern at the escalating world’s political turmoil, especially in Vietnam with the civil war. These affected Le Pho stylistically – the harshness of the times is portrayed, soft colour are replaced by intense colours as evident in the present lot.