TEFAF Maastricht kicked off today with the sale of a bronze by Barthélemy Prieur (1536-1611).
Lion Devouring a Doe is one of his best known works and this example is one of only three known casts of the model. It sold to a private collector from the stand of Stuart Lochhead Sculpture for a price in the region of £1.4m during the opening minutes of the fair.
The opening today felt to many participants like a return to form for the fair, which has not had a traditional run since 2019. The 2020 staging was held and eventually closed during the early days of coronavirus. Its physical return in 2022 was to a one-off summer timeslot, for a shortened and smaller edition.
“This is the right time for the fair,” said Robert Bowman of Bowman Sculpture. “It’s great to see the museums back, especially the US ones that we didn’t see in June.”
Among the sales to US museum sales on opening day was a painting by Albrecht de Vriendt (1843-1900) titled Lea, a Bride from Bethlehem, which was offered for low a six-figure sum on the stand of Elliott Fine Art, one of the Showcase exhibitors.
Will Korner, head of fairs at TEFAF, said that it “feels amazing to be back to normal, back in the groove”. He praised especially the efforts the fair had made to upgrade security following last year’s robbery. “It doesn’t feel like a huge change, but behind the scenes it really is,” he added.
Among the most visible changes was the introduction of metal detectors at the entrance. However, although long queues were feared at the entrance at opening, traffic moved quickly and the fair started promptly.
Jonathan Coulborn, of Thomas Coulborn & Sons, enjoyed buoyant sales in the first few hours of the fair including an 1870s ebony cabinet by Eugenio Argnani with 144 marble specimens, a pair of South American stirrups and a 19th century self-extinguishing candle from France.
“Our first fair was June last year,” he said. “This is a completely different experience. There have been lots of people, lots of interest and we’re very happy to be here.”