French artist family - three generations of love for Hanoi

On the occasion of Indochina University’s 100 years anniversary, Ms. Alix Tardieu, niece of artist Victor Tardieu, founder of the Indochina arts college, visited Vietnam.

Victor Tardieu was a foundation member of the college of Indochina art, author of the wall painting in base No 19 Le Thanh Tong (the formal University of Arts Indochina), whose painting had restoredby artist Hoang Hung.


Especially, Mr. Jean Tardieu – son of Victor, Ms. Alix’s father, also painted a beautiful Hanoi through the letters written to his two famous friends. Those were collected and published in a book namely ‘Hanoi Letter’.


Could you please introduce about the book?


The book is relived the deep beauty of Hanoi in an old age and harmony with describing climate, colours, scenery, and people. All create an admirable and unique picture, that is the o­nly o­ne about Vietnam.


Hanoi Letter of Jean Tardieu was published bilingual written o­n the occasion of the 100 anniversary of Indochina University and the 80th anniversary of College of Arts Indochina (NowHanoi Arts University) that founded by Victor Tardieu, writer’s father.


(quoted from Introduction of Centre of French culture)


The letters in ‘Hanoi Letter’ are completely personal, as my father lived with my grandfather a long time in Hanoi. Of which there were letters sent to Mr. Roger Martin Du Gard, who was given a Nobel prize in Literature.


Mr. Du Gard recommended my father publish the letters into a book and a meeting took place in 1928. The second letter was written in 1928 and sent to his friend Jacques Heurgon, who at the time completed his military services in Hanoi. He described a lot about Hanoi in his book.


Two letters were published separately, though I want to compile them into o­ne book, the publishing houses in French can not give their unanimous. Thanks to the French Cultural Centre in Hanoi, I havebeen able to satisfy my desire.


Hanoi through your father’s words and your own feeling?


Attitudes of French people to Hanoi now and in the past have obviously changed. When I go o­n Hanoi’s streets, it is not strange or surprising, for I have known them through my father’s letters, significantly I can recognize the elegant, gracefulness and politeness of the Hanoi ladies.


The city has changed though making many buildings still storing houses with antique style. In 1997, I came to Hanoi, saw many bicycles and heard many interesting sounds, now nothing but motorbikes. Certainly, we do not have another choice, that is development.


Any your comments o­n wall painting of artist Victor Tardieu, your grandfather drew in College of Arts Indochina, recently restored by Vietnamese artists?


I am surprised at the process of restoring, conducted quite good, and I would like to meet the artist, who did this work. In color, he is successful in using color, though it has changed a little, for example, more pink is used, but it is appropriate to the color of the wall in Hanoi.


In the past few years, through exchanged e-mail with Ms. Nguyen Anh Thu, Hanoi National University, you have informed that continuing to find out more document and letter related to this wall painting. Now, how is this conducted?


At present I have not looked for material in the true sense of the word, o­nly some material to serve as an introduction show of the book.


How many time have you come to Vietnam?


This is the third time. The first time when I came to Vietnam to receive statue of my grandfather, carved by a Vietnamese artist. At that time, my mother was ill and some months later she died in hospital. The second time, in 2005, the Hanoi University of Arts invited me to attend The 80th foundation of the university.


Your grandfather and father lived in Hanoi. Would you like to live in Hanoi, if you have suitable job?


These are words that I have said to my husband when we sat in the air to Vietnam. We are not young any longer, I am 70 years old , my husband 72.


If our journey to Vietnam is short, we will visit your country more often, I feel as if to live in my own house.


Thank you very much.

Tien Phong Online
Translated by VWU Int’l Relations Department