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Unseen Painting by Mai Trung Thu at Bonhams Reveals Shared and Touching Admiration With Renowned Uruguayan Sculptor:

The sale will also offer a major personal collection of Hong Kong’s pioneering and foremost Vietnamese art gallerist Shirley Hui


Hong Kong – WEBWIRE
Mai Trung Thu
(Vietnamese-French, 1906-1980)
Le Collier
Southeast Asian Modern & Contemporary Art
4 October 2023, 16:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty

HK$2,500,000 - HK$4,000,000

CA$420,000 - CA$680,000
Mai Trung Thu (Vietnamese-French, 1906-1980) Le Collier Southeast Asian Modern & Contemporary Art 4 October 2023, 16:00 HKT Hong Kong, Admiralty HK$2,500,000 - HK$4,000,000 CA$420,000 - CA$680,000

Southeast Asian Modern & Contemporary Art

4 Oct 2023

Hong Kong, Admiralty

Mai Trung Thu

(Vietnamese-French, 1906-1980)

Le Collier

Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Sale
Preview: 30 September to 4 October
Auction: 4 October
Bonhams Hong Kong Saleroom

A never-before-seen painting by celebrated Vietnamese artist Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) will be offered at Bonhams Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale on 4 October.

Le Collier, carrying an estimate of HK$2,500,000 – 4,000,000, was formerly in the private collection of Federico Möller de Berg (1899-1991), a renowned Uruguayan sculptor who acquired it directly from Mai Thu in 1948 – the year the two artists first met in Paris. Federico studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére and belonged to a circle of artists who shared and admired each other’s works. It was there Federico came across Mai Thu’s paintings. Fascinated by Mai Thu’s art and the tenderness in which he approached his subjects, Federico later exchanged his two sculptures for Mai Thu’s paintings, one of the two pieces was Le Collier. The work remained in Federico’s personal collection and was brought back to Uruguay where he treasured it for the rest of his life.

The painting portrays a white-dressed Vietnamese woman serenely reclining with a red-beaded necklace in hand, admiring it while at the same time seemingly thinking of someone associated with it. It is a rare work of the artist not only for its size – measuring 55 x 71cm – but also the richness of the subject’s emotion, the grace in her posture, and the striking composition.

Joan Yip, Senior Specialist of Bonhams Southeast Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, commented: “This painting has such a heart-warming story and reveals the pure admiration between two very different artists, who first met in Paris and developed a touching admiration for each other’s work. Kept privately in the collection of Federico Möller de Berg for more than 70 years, the painting is a unique work by Mai Thu and we expect a lot of interest from collectors as it comes fresh to the market on 4 October in Hong Kong.”

The sale also offers an important art collection of the late Dr. Shirley S. Hui, co-founder of Galerie La Vong – the first gallery in Hong Kong dedicated to Vietnamese contemporary art.

Dr. Hui is recognised as the one of the earliest and foremost gallerists to introduce Vietnamese artists and their works to Hong Kong, giving the city a new artistic dimension to understanding Vietnam. When she fell in love with Vietnamese art, her friends did not anticipate the obsession to last. But soon, she was already celebrating her role as confidante to the country’s emerging talent, propelling such names as Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Nguyen Trung and Dang Xuan Hoa to market fame. Outside her gallery, Dr. Hui was herself an avid collector too. 18 works from her personal collection will be offered in the sale. Despite having handled countless Vietnamese paintings, these are the very works she kept close to her heart until she passed away in 2022, highlighted by Dang Xuan Ho’s Portrait of Dr. Shirley S. Hui from 1993, estimated at HK$50,000-70,000. Further highlights of the collection include:

• Nguyen Trung, Woman with Flower Garland, estimate: HK$60,000-80,000.
• Bui Xuan Phai, Blue Nude, estimate: HK$35,000-55,000.
• Nguyen Sang, Cats Playing, estimate: HK$40,000-60,000.

More highlights of Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale include:

• Le Pho, Les Giroflées, estimate: HK$200,000-300,000.
• San Win, Pagoda Festival, estimate: HK$50,000-70,000.
• Tran Luu Hau, Hanoi Trees, estimate: HK$170,000-270,000.

Captivating Curiosities from the Markbreiter Collection, an online sale from 29 September to 5 October, features more than 40 lots of antique jewellery and Vietnamese paintings from Robin Markbreiter, passionate collector of Asian Art and Publisher of Arts of Asia – one of the foremost international magazines dedicated to Asian arts. Highlights include a Gold Repoussé Necklace and a Pair of Gold Repoussé Earrings, Champa, 14th century, estimated at HK$40,000-60,000.


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