MAASTRICHT—This year’s European Fine Art and Antiques Fair (TEFAF), which runs March 12–21, opened on a bright note, with several major sales reported by the end of the first weekend.
The fair’s traditional power base is Old Master paintings, and even with the supply of masterpieces drying up, dealers still attempted to bring the best. London dealer Jean-Luc Baroni was displaying a Giambattista Tiepolo painting of a semiclad girl—for which he paid a record £2.8million pounds ($4.2million) at Christie’s in December 2008 on behalf of a client—but the work was not for sale; it was just something to show off. The Tiepolo was one of a number of works that had found their way to Maastricht via the salerooms.
Last year Bernheimer-Colnaghi showed Lucas Cranach the Elder’s painting David and Bathsheba, 1534, which had been acquired eight months earlier at Sotheby’s in London for £2.1million pounds ($4.2million). Konrad Bernheimer had asked £4.6million pounds ($7million) for it at the fair, without success. This year he sold it, with an asking price of £4.8million pounds ($7.4million). Bernheimer also sold Le petit messager, a rare painting by Marguerite Gerard (1761–1837) priced at E700,000 ($963,000), as well as the recently discovered The Toilet of Venus, by Nicolas Colombel (1644–1717), priced at E550,000 ($756,000).
As usual, U.S. museum curators were also shopping at the fair. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., bought a 17th-century winter landscape with skaters by Adam van Breen for E910,000 ($1.25million) from London dealer John Mitchell. Sculpture dealer Robert Bowman reported the six-figure sale of Othello, a sculpture by the 19th-century artist Pietro Calvi. At the stand of Matthiesen Fine Art, two museums were vying for Saint Benito of Palermo, an 18th-century sculpture by Jose Montes de Oca, which was placed on reserve. According to the gallery’s Web site, the sculpture was priced at $600,000/1million.
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn., was also scouring the fair for acquisitions, and bought The Astronomy Lesson, late 17th century, a work by the court painter Francois de Troy, for an undisclosed price. The painting had sold at Sotheby’s in New York in January of last year for $230,500 on a $100,000/150,000 estimate.
Another U.S. museum bought a 17th-century bronze bust of Louis XIV by François Girardon, priced at $1.5 million, from Daniel Katz.
A full report on the Maastricht fair will be published in the next issue of ARTnewsletter.