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Hue centre fails in bid to buy royal painting.

Thursday, 9 December, 2010.

imagehandler004.jpgTHUA THIEN – HUE — The Hue Monuments Conservation Centre outbid at an auction in Paris on an artwork painted by former King Ham Nghi of Viet Nam.

A diplomat at the Vietnamese Embassy in France who represented the centre at the auction at Millon&Associes submitted a bid of 8,000 euros (US$11,784) for the Chieu Ta or Decline dur Jour (Sunset), an oil on canvas by King Ham Nghi.

But the highest bid was 8,800 euros ($12,962), said Nguyen Van Phuc, head of the Centre's External Relations Division.

The reserve price was between $1,100 and $1,700.

Phuc said the centre decided to join the auction because it had recognised the historical value of the painting, an art work related to the Nguyen dynasty (1802 – 1945).

A number of Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) in France, who wanted to donate the painting to the centre, were unhappy that they could not purchase the painting.

King Ham Nghi, the eighth ruler of the Nguyen dynasty, ascended to the throne in 1884 and ruled for one year, during which he led the Can Vuong resistance movement against the French.

In 1888 he was arrested and exiled in Algeria, where he died in 1943. He was buried in 1965 in Aquitaine, France.

He painted Chieu Ta in 1915 while in exile. It is thought to be influenced by the works of Paul Gauguin, a leading French post-impressionist artist who lived in the 19th century.

Phuc said through the Vietnamese Embassy in France and the Association of Overseas Vietnamese in the country that the centre would contact King Ham Nghi's daughter, Princess Nhu Ly, the owner of many paintings by her father, to ask for transfer of ownership of these art works, to the city of Hue. — VNS