March 14, 2017

It's TEFAF Time Again!

Of all the art and antiques exhibitions and fairs I go to every year, the one I most look forward to is The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) held each March in the tiny town of Maastricht, The Netherlands.  Established in 1988 as a venue for dealers in Old Master paintings, TEFAF has grown and expanded to its present coterie of 275 international specialists presenting rare and wonderful works from Egyptian mummies to French wall papers, all thoroughly vetted and all for sale.

Last week I spent two very full days exploring the fair's myriad offerings and enjoying its unique ambiance.  One of the features that make this event so special, and something that the organizers pay extra attention to, is the flowers.  After all, this is the land of the tulip, and every visitor who comes through the entrance is expecting to be wowed by the floral displays.   This year's main installation was like a giant disc by Anish Kapoor, but instead of mirror, it comprised of thousands of test tubes, each suspended with a silver wire and each containing one or two stems in various shades of rose, lilac, green or white.  The effect was stunning, and set the stage for the magic that was to come.

With the tremendous variety of objects and artworks on view it was a challenge to choose the highlights.  So here is a short, extremely subjective selection of some of my favorite things...

"La Ville de Paris" is carved entirely of ivory and stands about 15" tall in its glass case.  It was made in Dieppe circa 1790 and can be found on the stand of Galerie Delalande, Paris...

This ornate ormolu-mounted parcel gilt and polychrome painted ivory, ebony and rose-wood cabinet was made in Augsburg circa 1650 and stands 33" tall.  It is offered for sale by Peter Mühlbauer, Pocking, Germany...

Looking for something a little simpler?  How about these inlaid side chairs designed by Wiener Werkstätte artist Kolomon Moser in 1902/03.  The pair of glass mosaic wall decorations are also by Moser and were made for the reading room at the Beethoven exhibition of the Vienna Secession XIV.  These items are on display with specialist Yves Macaux, London...

On a royal note, Didier Aaron, Paris/London, is presenting this larger than life ceremonial portrait painting of Louis XIV in his coronation finery by Antoine François Callet...

More modern princess fantasies can be indulged with this charming diamond tiara made in France in 1905.  Enquiries can be made at S.J. Phillips, London...

Another impractical but rather amazing piece is The Fabergé Potato on display at A La Vielle Russie, New York.  Made in St. Petersburg circa 1890 by workmaster Michael Perchin, the potato-shaped box is carved of pink-brown agate with a "sliced" lid...

This large seated Buddha exudes serenity.  Carved, painted and gilded during the Ming Dynasty (14th century), this massive (750+ lbs) Buddha is offered for sale by Dutch Oriental Art dealer Vanderven...

On the smaller side of the Buddha coin is this much smaller but equally intriguing black Delft Buddha officially titled "A Figure of Pu-Tai-Ho-Shang (Bodhisattva)" and attributed to the Metaale Pot Factory, Delft, circa 1700.  This rather jolly figure of Buddha can be viewed at Salomon Stodel Antiquités, Amsterdam...

My absolute favorite item offered for sale in this plethora of the fantastic, is, without a doubt, the marvelous Dutch dollhouse filled with 17th century Dutch silver miniatures on the stand of John Endlich Antiquairs, Amsterdam.  This large-scale dollhouse, made of walnut with mother-of-pearl, glass, paper, porcelain and damast was built and decorated in The Netherlands and China and was a real crowd-pleaser.  It was sold within the first hour, reputedly to an American buyer, at an asking price of nearly two million Euros.

Once again, I have enjoyed every single moment of my visit to Maastricht.  From the flowers to the furniture, the paintings to the pearls, it has been another voyage of amazing discoveries.  And though I am always sad to finish a visit to TEFAF, I am already looking forward to the next one!