A rare set of sketches drawn around 1935 and featured in “Monographie dessinée de l’Indochine” (Monograph of paintings on the Indochina) vividly depict the landscapes and lifestyles of Vietnam’s southern region.
According to Ghislain de la Hitte, who runs L’Opiomane, an old Parisian bookstore specializing in Indochinese artwork, a number of the sketches were based on images from postcards or famous photos published around 1900-1910. Though the exact number of copies isn’t known, it was extremely difficult to own the paintings in one set. De la Hitte says he saw the entire set only once.
“The sketches are accurately descriptive of old Vietnamese society. In the years before 1935 and until 1975, students from Gia Dinh as well as those attending art school in Dong Nai’s Bien Hoa city were all taught this drawing technique before they moved on to more technical drawing. Most sketches depict landscapes and traditional lifestyles in a simple yet captivating way,” said local artist Nguyen Lam.
Gia Dinh Art School was initially run by architect André Joyeux. The number of students soared from 15 in its first year to 160 in 1940. An association of Gia Dinh artists and sculptors was also founded in 1933 to help the students improve their skills and professional opportunities.