Approximately 250 Indochinese artistic works were auctioned by Lynda Trouvé on September 22 at the Drouot Hotel in Paris. Notably, among them were 19 paintings by Emperor Ham Nghi, which were auctioned for a total of 330,000 euros.
"River in the Evening Summer," "Lake at Dawn," "Wheat Field," or "Under the Shade of Dusk"... were the landscape paintings in the collection of 19 paintings by Emperor Ham Nghi that were put up for auction.
Among them, the painting "Under the Shade of Dusk" was sold for the highest price, at 38,000 euros.
An unnamed Vietnamese-German, who purchased two paintings for a total of 64,000 euros, expressed deep emotions when acquiring Emperor Ham Nghi's artworks. He stated that besides their artistic value, these paintings also hold historical significance.
He said: "Emperor Ham Nghi, out of concern for his people and his country, faced numerous challenges under French colonial rule. I deeply respect him. Therefore, I want to preserve his paintings as a tribute to a patriotic emperor."
Expressing the honor of introducing Emperor Ham Nghi's collection in the 13th edition of the Indochinese art auction, auctioneer Lynda Trouvé mentioned that this is the only collection by Emperor Ham Nghi found in France. It is also the first time that the Drouot auction center has had the privilege to organize an auction of such a large number of Emperor Ham Nghi's artworks. He was an emperor who was once exiled in Algeria, an artist who pursued the impressionist style, and was well-known as a prominent figure in the fields of literature and art.
According to Lynda Trouvé, the auctioned paintings depict the landscapes of the city of Vichy. This collection belonged to Henri Aubé, a former French soldier stationed in Hanoi from 1907 to 1909. It is highly likely that during his treatment at the Vichy Military Tropical Hospital after his time in Vietnam, Henri Aube met and befriended Emperor Ham Nghi, who frequented the facility for medical treatment from 1909 to 1913.
The scene of the auction on September 22nd. (Photo: Nguyen Thu Ha/Vietnam News Agency)
This valuable collection may have been painted by Emperor Ham Nghi during his stay in Vichy and given to Henri Aube. The paintings were discovered in an attic, in a case covered in dust and almost discarded before anyone realized the significance of the figurative signatures on them.
Thanks to a postcard accompanying the dedication, "Lieutenant Colonel of the Colonial Infantry Henri Aubé, Head of the Indochina Geography Bureau in Hanoi," and the signature of Emperor Ham Nghi, the origin of these paintings was revealed.
The paintings inherited by Henri Aube's family were part of their private collection and were put up for sale by his descendants.
Emperor Ham Nghi (1871-1944) was forced into exile by the French government just a year after ascending to the throne.
As an art enthusiast, during his exile in Algiers, the capital of Algeria, he learned painting and sculpture techniques from artist Marius Reynaud and was deeply drawn to pastel paintings and sculpture.
Some of Emperor Ham Nghi's artworks were auctioned on September 22nd. (Photo: Nguyen Thu Ha/Vietnam News Agency)
Emperor Ham Nghi undertook several trips to France under strict surveillance and met artists such as Foujita, Rodin, and writer Judith Gautier.
Emperor Ham Nghi's works are extremely rare on the market and have never been sold before. This is the first time such a large collection has been auctioned. During his lifetime, Emperor Ham Nghi's works were exhibited at the Guimet Museum in 1926.
In the auction on the evening of September 22, in addition to Emperor Ham Nghi's collection, about 250 artworks and artifacts bearing the artistic legacy of Indochina were also sold.
Many works by renowned Vietnamese artists such as Mai Thu, Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam, Le Ba Dang, Tran Phuc Duyen were featured.
French artists' works related to Indochina were also introduced and sold at high prices.