1867-1949 | French
S.M Khai Dinh, Empereur d'Annam
(S.M. Khai Dinh, Emperor of Annam
Signed "P. DUCUING" and stamped "CIRE PERDUE/F. BARBEDIENNE/PARIS"
Magnificently detailed, this imperial bronze bust by the French sculptor Paul Ducuing captures the likeness of Khai Dinh, the 12th Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam who reigned from 1916 to 1925. Produced by Barbedienne, this bronze is a large-scale version of the emperor's official bust that was specially ordered in 1922 by the Court of Annam to accompany the young prince Vinh Tuy during his stay in France. The only son of Khai Dinh, Vinh Tuy embarked on his studies in France at the age of 10, accompanied by his cousin, Prince Vinh Can. The royal pair resided with their cousin Eugène Charles (1865-1946), the former governor of Indochina who tutored the young sovereign during his stay. Ducuing's bust followed Vinh Tuy to Paris as a reminder of his life back home and, after his father's premature death in 1925, as a poignant memory of his imperial predecessor.
Designed for ease of travel, the original gilded bronze bust measured just 13 inches in height, and it frequently appears in photographs of the prince residing in a place of import on his desk. The bust was created and signed by Paul Ducuing, a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Ducuing accompanied his friend Albert Sarraut, the Governor-General of French Indochina (and later Prime Minister of France), on a mission to Indochina from December 1921 to December 1924. During this time period, he was commissioned to produce this official bust of Emperor Khai Dinh for the prince.
Born Nguyen Buu Dao, Khai Dinh was the son of the Emperor Dong Khanh; he took the name Khai Dinh, which means "auger of peace and stability," when he became emperor of Annam in 1916. Ruling the country during a time of general discontent, he was an advocate of cooperation with the colonial power, France, who during that time had a strong hold on the region. His tomb is among the most visited in Vietnam today for its highly unique and extravagant style, which brings together a blend of Vietnamese and foreign design elements – a significant metaphor for the French colonial influence over his reign.
19" wide x 11" deep x 30 1/8" high