Having been held every other year since its inception, the organiser, the Syndicat National des Antiquaires (SNA), decided two years ago to make it an annual event (though the Biennale name remains unchanged).
Accordingly, for the first time, the 2017 edition follows directly on from the year before.
In acknowledgement of the ‘annualisation’, the fair will have a shorter run – seven days from September 11-17 – compared to the nine the year before.
It also features a number of innovations (discussed in ATG’s interview with the SNA’s president Mathias Ary Jan on page 18-19).
While the majority of exhibitors are French, about a third come from other European regions including the UK, Italy, Iberia and Switzerland, and as far afield as Hong Kong.
But what will those exhibitors bring to the vastness of the Grand Palais to tempt the visitors and what are their hopes for the revamped event?
ATG presents ATG’s selection of items on offer from dealers exhibiting at the event.
while on page 24 Mark Bridge canvasses the opinion of two exhibitors, one returning for the second time and a new recruit. while on page 24 Mark Bridge canvasses the opinion of two exhibitors, one returning for the second time and a new recruit. while on page 24 Mark Bridge canvasses the opinion of two exhibitors, one returning for the second time and a new recruit.
An unusual work by one of the best-known French artists, Edouard Manet, will feature on Left Bank dealership Galerie Berès’ Biennale stand.
Manet’s painting has always been cited as having Spanish influence, and here is it displayed in a different form with a fan-waving Spanish dancer painted on the parchment face of a tambourine.
The 7in (18cm) diameter instrument, signed Manet, retains the original ribbons and has a provenance to Manet’s friend, the journalist Antonin Proust, and the artist Etienne Moreau-Nélaton.
It is priced in the region of €250,000-350,000.
French master watchmaker François Paul Journe has been creating prize-winning precision watches for more than 33 years.
After developing movements for Swiss companies, he launched his own collection in 1999. The firm makes no more than 900 watches a year, all produced in its Geneva workshops and sold in its boutiques around the world.
The selection on show at the Paris Biennale includes this emblematic FP Journe creation, a platinum-cased chronometre à resonance. FP Journe is the only watch company to produce this exclusive movement, which has two mechanical beating ‘hearts’. It is priced at €89,200 (including taxes).
Galerie Sarti is one of the Biennale’s longstanding participants, having exhibited at the fair since 1996.
The Paris dealer is renowned for early Italian paintings, including gold ground works. Among the paintings on show at the Grand Palais will be an impressive tempera and gold panel painting of the Ascension by the 15th century Florentine artist Neri di Bicci guided at €220,000.
But the gallery is ringing the changes with a piece of late 18th century Italian furniture by the Torinese cabinetmaker Pietro Piffetti. It is a trademark example of this renowned cabinetmaker’s work, mixing marquetry in exotic wood and engraved ivory to rich and colourful decorative effect.
This four-drawer commode originally formed a pair with one previously in the collection of the Marquess of Bath at Longleat. It is priced at €900,000.
Mullany Fine Art
Among the exhibitors from the UK at this year’s Biennale will be Nicholas Mullany, specialist in haute époque (medieval and renaissance objects of art).
Early stone sculpture is a perennial mainstay of Mullany’s stock and among the pieces on show this year will be this mid-15th century, 2ft (60cm) high alabaster Virgin and Child.
The finely executed statuette, in original condition with a rich ivory patina, is one of numerous copies of the revered 14th century life-size marble Madonna and child in the Basilica of Maria Santissima Annunciata in Trapani, Sicily, that is attributed to Nino Pisano.
It will be priced in the region of €185,000.
The Left Bank Parisian gallery Galerie Delalande always has an enticing stand at the Biennale with a mix of scientific and nautical instruments, walking canes, tabacologie and curios.
One of the stand-out items this year will be a rare brass terrestrial navigator’s globe which is priced in the region of €120,000-150,000. It features a meridian that enables the user to determine position from sunrise to sunset according to the seasons, referencing no fewer than 27 locations.
The globe is unsigned but the engraved cartography is based on that of Guillaume Delisle published in 1700. Delisle taught the young Louis XV and in return received the title of geographer royal.
The globe, which has been adapted for display with a replacement stand, would originally have fitted into a travelling case. The gallery knows no other example in either a museum or a private collection.
The Bailly Gallery from Geneva specialises in impressionist and modern art and is making its third appearance at the Biennale. One of the highlights on its stand this year is this fresh-to-the-market painting by Jean Dubuffet.
The 2ft 2in x 3ft 3in (67cm x 1m) acrylic and paper collage, on paper laid on canvas, is monogrammed and dated JD 82 and is titled Site Aléatoire avec 6 personnages.
It is part of a collection that goes under the title of l’Hourloupe, a term invented by the artist to describe a group of works in various media produced over a 20-year period that are characterised by the use of red, blue and white colours and the employment of stripes and hatchings.
The price range for majority of the works on show will be €100,000-2m.
The Kervorkian Gallery, Parisian specialist in antiquities and Islamic works of art, will be taking a Neolithic gypsum alabaster statuette of a woman to the Biennale. It will be priced in the region of €100,000-500,000.
The 5in (13cm) high figure comes from western Anatolia or the Cyclades and dates to the 5th-4th millennium BC. It was with the Brook Street Gallery in London in 1968, then a New York collection from 1968-79, passing by descent to 2016.
The loan exhibition
With their new aim of putting the private collector centre stage and focusing each year on a major collection for their loan exhibition, the Biennale’s organisers have got off to a flying start.
They are showing more than 130 works from the Barbier-Mueller collections at the Grand Palais in a display that also serves as a homage to Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, who died last year.
The show combines pieces loaned by the Barbier-Mueller foundation from the eponymous museum in Geneva and family members, and reunites elements from four generations going back to Jean Paul’s father Josef.
As well as pieces from Jean Paul’s tribal art collection; there will be Japanese Samurai pieces collected by Gabriel, coins and Old Masters from Stephane, contemporary art from Thierry and books from Diane. Some of them are making their first appearance in public.
One item on display will be a Malagan carved and painted wood figure from New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of an impressive collection of Oceanic works of art assembled by Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller. It has a 19th century provenance to the Grand Duke of Baden and was formerly in the Ethnographic Museum in Mannheim.
Accompanying the exhibition will be Les Collections Barbier-Meuller: 110 ans de Passion, a specially produced book published by Editions Glénat in partnership with the Biennale.