Sometimes hastily and wrongly described as a painter from the South, Le Van De was in fact a graduate of the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l'Indochine in 1930, studied in Paris, participated in the Paris Colonial Exhibition of 1931, and further exhibited in Italy and the Vatican in 1934 and 1936 respectively. He was a prize-winner in the Salon of the French Artists in 1932. He was 39 years old and at the peak of his career when he painted the present lot.
Lady of Hue is an iconoclastic work, capturing a moment in a time of national searching, for a national identity. Framed by the red vertical columns of a palace architecture, the lady is clearly a member of an imperial household, traditional and bound by customs represented by the teapot and cups and incense burner placed in front of her. The inquisitive softness of her face reveals a quintessential Vietnamese soul. Diep Minh Chau, a student of Le Van De and himself an artist of note who studied at the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l'Indochine between 1940 and 1945, has authenticated this work in a hand-written note on the reverse of the present lot.
Senior Consultant, Vietnamese Art