The meeting with the flamboyant collector Henri-Pierre Roché in 1929 is decisive for Sanyu. A friend of Leo and Gertrude Stein, Roché plays a role of discoverer of talents in the avant-garde communities of Montparnasse. He promises Sanyu to buy him all his future works.
Liberated from material constraints, the young Chinese gives free impulse to his creativity. He adds colors according to Roché's recommendation to practice the oil painting. With this technique then new for him, Sanyu explores other artistic possibilities in a three centuries old theme : the bouquet of flowers in a vase.
Once again Sanyu goes against all the artistic conventions. His colors are very little contrasting either in pastel or dark hues. His favorite color is pink in a similarity between still life and nude that could have led him to the abstract expressionism. The vase is reduced to its outline without color and texture.
On November 22, 2014 in Hong Kong, Christie's sold for HK $ 47M including premium a Bouquet de roses dans un vase blanc, oil on canvas 81 x 50 cm dated April 10, 1931. The vase draws attention only by a slight angular tilting. A better visibility on the leaves than on the flowers is in opposition with all the academics.
On November 25 in the same auction house, a Bouquet de marguerites dated January 1931 is estimated HK $ 50M, lot 21.
This oil on canvas 81 x 45 cm appears as a bold study of asymmetry. The white edges at bottom and right simulate a window that decenters the vase in an optical trick. The flowers are in two groups separated by bare stems. The upper group leaning to the left is counterbalanced by the distribution of the flowers below it. In this composition without perspective the stylized vase is either posed or floating.
SOLD for HK$ 51M including premium