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Modern Art Gains on Old Masters at Maastricht

With 77,500 visitors from all over the world—3 percent more than last year—The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, held from March 4-13, confirmed its leading role in the market for Old Master and 19th-century paintings.

MAASTRICHT—With 77,500 visitors from all over the world—3 percent more than last year—The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, held from March 4-13, confirmed its leading role in the market for Old Master and 19th-century paintings.

Moreover, this year’s fair, the 18th, showed an important qualitative and quantitative improvement in its hitherto understocked modern art sector. In addition, many exhibitors reported a strong comeback of American and, especially, German collectors and museums at their booths.

“This was a really great fair, very active with a lot of interesting clients,” Raymond Thomas, of Galerie Thomas, Munich, told ARTnewsletter. The gallery’s sales included a “beautiful” Marino Marini bronze sculpture for “close to half a million dollars”; and an Emil Nolde watercolor, a Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting and a Max Pechstein landscape for prices between $200,000/600,000.

Thomas, who sits on the board of TEFAF, says fair organizers made a concerted effort to strengthen the modern art component of the fair, including more prominent placement and space for modern art dealers. The debut of Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, and the return of Acquavella Galleries, New York (which last participated in TEFAF in 2001), says Thomas, “were a good attribute to the modern section. On the whole, it looked much better than it did five years ago. This was a big improvement, but we’re still working on that aspect.”

While the Old Master specialists still dominate TEFAF with 59 exhibitors, the modern art sector showed strength by its volume of 34 exhibitors. Acquavella offered Joan Miró’s large L’oiseau au plumage deployé vole vers l’arbre argenté, 1953, for $10 million; and Pablo Picasso’s Acrobate, 1930, for $3.5 million.

Among the newest works at this year’s TEFAF were two pieces by Barry Flanagan, from the edition of a large bronze sculpture, Troubadour, at Waddington Galleries, London, with an asking price of €204,000 ($265,200). According to TEFAF, two were sold.

Some Old Master dealers were also pleased at the interest of modern art collectors who attended the fair. London dealer Johnny van Haeften says he sold a Jan Lievens (1607-74) Tronie—Study of an old bearded man with a cap, for €4.2 million ($5.5 million); and A still life of five shells on a stone ledge, by Adriaen Coorte, 1698, for €1.4 million ($1.8 million). The dealer also points out that he sold several works in the €100,000/150,000 price range to new buyers, who usually focus on more modern works.

On the other hand, some traditional Old Master specialists expanded their offerings at Maastricht to include a selection of high-value works by modern masters. Old Master specialist Robert Noortman from Maastricht, for example, sold—on the first day—Aquarelle of a Boy with a Straw Hat, by Paul Cézanne, for about €125,000 ($162,500).

He also displayed a pastel drawing, Les repasseuses (Les blanchisseuses), by Edgar Degas, at a price of €4.8 million ($6.3 million); and a Gustave Corot oriental riverscape, Smyrne-Bournabat, 1873, for €3.2 million ($4.2 million).

Among the highlights of the classic Old Master paintings were Pieter Brueghel’s The Seven Acts of Mercy, painted after 1616, for €1.375 million ($1.8 million), and the serene River landscape with figures on a wooden bank below a church. . ., 1651, by Salomon van Ruysdael, for €1.75 million ($2.3 million) at the booth of London’s Richard Green Gallery. “There was a lot of interest, and we were very satisfied with the results,” Green told ARTnewsletter, adding that negotiations for several works were ongoing.

Although TEFAF exhibitors are traditionally reluctant to speak about their sales successes, some did become known. New York’s print specialist David Tunick, for instance, sold a gouache by Gerrit van Battem to the National Gallery of Scotland, while his Amsterdam colleague P. de Boer sold a work by Joseph de Bray to a German institution.

New York’s Daphne Alazraki reports the sale of a Flower Still Life by Rachel Ruysch (1663-1750); and Konrad O. Bernheimer—of the Munich- and London-based gallery Bernheimer-Colnaghi and the new head of TEFAF’s picture department, Pictura—was successful in selling six important works, among them a 17th-century Virgin with Child, by Valerio Castello, to an American collector.

The fact that, like last year, the U.S. dollar was weak against the euro seemed not to hinder the buying ardor of visiting American collectors. Museum curators and administrators who attended the fair represented, among other institutions, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Detroit Institute of Art; the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

CHRISTIAN VON FABER CASTELL

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