March 25, 2012

Celebrating 25 Years of The European Fine Art Fair

Once again the small town of Maastricht, Holland, is bustling with an onslaught of 75,000 visitors who have come to enjoy what is undeniably the finest art and antiques fair in the world - TEFAF.  But this year is even more special as it marks the silver anniversary of this elegant affair that began very simply as a venue for old master paintings and has evolved into a showcase for excellence in areas ranging from Roman antiquities to Russian icons to Rothko paintings.

As anticipated, the entrance to the fair was stunning with a shimmering chandelier of sparkling lights playing stars to an enormous full moon comprising thousands of white roses.  Each aisle featured arrangements of masses of every variety of tulip imaginable.  All this set the stage for the marvelous treasures to be discovered within...

The great pleasure of this fair is not just the rare and magnificent items one discovers, but very often the booths themselves are presented exquisitely.  I loved the salon hanging of 18th Century scenes of Venice by various Italian painters at Galleria Cesare Lampronti, Rome.

And the collection of portraits of British Royals from the Houses of Tudor and Stuart hanging at The Weiss Gallery, London.

I thought the installation of early 20th Century chairs from the Bauhaus, Secessionists and Wiener Werkstätte on the stand of Yves Macaux, London was stunning in its simplicity.

The Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Munich, never fails to entrance with his marvelous collection of exotic objects from the Renaissance and the Baroque including a stuffed armadillo atop a 17th Century Dutch marriage chest, and this elaborately carved box made from a type of nut.


Some of my favorite pieces at this year's fair would have to include the Japanese "Shibyama" elephant carved of ivory with an overall ornamentation of mother of pearl and semi-precious stones.  It dates to approximately 1880 and could be found on the stand of the venerable dealer Mallett, London and New York.

Still in ivory but much earlier and from a different continent is this late 17th Century statue of Pluto and Proserpina executed by Matthias Steinl, an Austrian artist of considerable talent.  This intricately carved work stands about 10 1/4" tall on a base of ebony and is exquisite in its detail and its porcelain-like patina.  It was on view at Julius Böhler, Stamberg, Germany.

This being Holland there was a profusion of porcelain with the long-time exhibitors Aronson Antiquairs, Amsterdam, showing a very rare pair of plaques featuring Princess Anne and Prince William IV.  These royal portrait plaques are superb examples of "petit feu" polychrome and gilded Delftware created around 1735 and still in perfect condition.

A stunning life sized oil portrait of Ena Wertheimer, painted in 1902 by Giovanni Boldini reigned over the stand of Rovilant + Voena, London and Milan.

While a massive bronze sculpture of a horse's head by contemporary British artist Nic Fiddian-Green dominated the booth of Sladmore Gallery, London.

But if I had to pick one single piece that was marvelous and magical and totally out of this world, it would have to be the clock made in Germany circa 1760 for Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor from 1745 until 1765.  This magnificent confection of gilded wood and mirror stands 3' 8" high and is highly carved with allegories of the four continents (Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas) and the four elements all entwined with scrolls and foliage, shields and coronets.  The clock itself was made by Leopold Hoys, a master clockmaker from Bamberg, while the case was created by Bonaventura Joseph Mutschele of Würzburg.  Still in perfect working order, the clock plays an original minuet every hour at 1 1/2 minutes past the hour and chimes every 15 minutes.  This masterpiece was offered by Daniel Katz, London, at an impressive price of 1.9 Million Euro.

TEFAF's Silver Jubilee edition is now almost over and I can hardly wait until next year!  But next on the itinerary is Paris which is always a joy and full of wonders to discover as well.  Au revoir!

1 comment:

Rodney van den Beemd said...

Interesting review Georgina! TEFAF is over again and I reading this post I remember that you visited it last year too. I live just 30 km from Maastricht and could have dropped by for a meet and greet :-) Enjoy Paris!