June 1961: Lê Quốc Lộc’s Peaceful Hanoi

In April 1961, America’s failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba highlighted its anti-Communist foreign policy at large. As well as a monumental embarrassment, the failed invasion and the Bay of Pigs fiasco impressed upon the American government their need to curtail Communism around the world.

In Vietnam, America made its position clear with successive supportive actions for Ngô Đình Diệm’s regime and South Vietnam in 1961. After visiting Saigon in May, Lyndon Johnson, then vice-president of the United States, proposed more aid for the Diệm regime. When General Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostov recommended troop intervention disguised as flood relief in October, President Kennedy quickly agreed to supply Ngô Đình Diệm with extra equipment and advisors.

In this building climate, Lê Quốc Lộc had the opportunity to capture the peace and tranquillity in the northern capital of Hanoi (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Lê Quốc Lộc, 1961, Sài Sơn, a commune of Quốc Oai District, Hanoi. “Một chiều hè Sài Sơn; 6-1961; QLộc (A summer afternoon in Sài Sơn; 6-1961; QLộc).” Crayon on machine-made paper.

In the sketch, Lộc renders a scene in the commune of Sài Sơn in Quốc Oai District, Hanoi. As well as the beautiful scenery and karst rock surroundings, the picture shows a man standing in front of the entrance to the city’s Chùa Thầy (The Masters) temple, a popular and well-known temple within the city. It was a peace and reverence that would be shattered in the years to come.

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