Mai Trung Thu was a member of the first class of the Indochina Fine Arts School in Hanoi. Since the early days of the formation of the college, both teachers and students have paid great attention and went to great length to stay away from any tendencies to westernize their works even as they were trained by French painters like Victor Tardieu and Joseph Inguimberty in western art techniques. Vietnamese students were encouraged and indeed exhibited great adroitness to invent new art forms around the mediums of lacquer and silk.
In the case of Mai Trung Thu, it can be said that he perfected the technique of silk painting after 1937, when he visited France to participate in an exhibition and settled thereafter. Mai Thu was a scholar, influenced by poetry and literature so valued in Vietnam as well as in China. He was known as an expert player of the dan bau, a one stringed instrument, and also as a film-maker: he recorded Ho Chi Minh's visit to Paris in 1946.
Very early in his career he favoured painting elegant pictures of women in ao dai in nostalgic settings, like Lady at the Table (Lot 550). At times, the theme of maternal love is created in a pensively romantic atmosphere, like in Mother and Childre (Lot 549). Later in his career, Mai Thu will use a stronger and more colourful palette tones, as demonstrated in Jeune mre et ses enfants (Young mother and children) (Lot 551) and Reading (Lot 552).