For a fair of the size and prestige of TEFAF Maastricht, everybody aims to bring their best pieces.
Sometimes these are recently acquired treasures, the result of an opportunity seized to acquire a great object. At other stands there are pieces that dealers have squirrelled away for years in order to research and uncover their full history.
Either way, participants offer the visitor an opportunity to peruse some of the best pieces on offer across the whole spectrum of the art market.
Here is ATG’s selection from TEFAF’s latest cornucopia.
VANDERVEN ORIENTAL ART
STAND NUMBER: 102
Soapstone carving of a European nobleman
The Dutch dealership Vanderven Oriental Art celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is marking the occasion with a catalogue titled Figures, celebrating the human form in East Asian Art.
This has taken four years to assemble and will be launched at TEFAF Maastricht.
Some of the works in the catalogue are items that Vanderven has sold in the past and are now returning.
“What we’ve noticed in the past eight to 10 years is that we’ve gone full circle. The first generation of buyers have become sellers,” says owner Floris van der Ven.
Among the items they are offering is a 10in (26cm) high Kangxi period soapstone carving of a European gentleman is priced at €48,000.
The source for this fashionably costumed man, who sports a long coat, waistcoat and a curled wig, was probably a contemporary European print.
It may represent a Venetian nobleman as his clothes are similar to studies made by Luca Carlevarijs around 1700-10. Chinese soapstone carvings of Europeans are rare and were probably created for export.
In the 1990s, Vanderven sold another similar soapstone carving, depicting a lady. “Although we don’t know who bought her at the time, they would make a handsome couple,” van der Ven says.
STAND NUMBER: 276
Spanish ‘magic belt
Les Enluminures is staging a special exhibition, The thing of mine I have loved the best: Meaningful Jewels, to celebrate its 25th year at TEFAF. It brings 46 pieces of European jewellery dating from the 8th-18th centuries.
The title comes from the medieval will of an English duchess who bequeaths a reliquary jewel to her son.
Among the highlights is a Spanish ‘magic belt’ offered for $145,000. Made of brocaded velvet, gold thread, silver, enamel, jet, rock crystal and castana de Indias (horse chestnut), it is thought to be the oldest of very few surviving examples, combining elements from the 10th-17th centuries including Islamic textile fragments, Arab coins, rosary beads and an amulet worn by a child to protect against evil spirits.
KUNSTKAMMER GEORG LAUE
STAND NUMBER: 204
Boxwood carving by the Master of the St Sebastian’s Martyrdoms
A newly discovered 17th century boxwood relief is one of the highlights at the stand of Kunstkammer Georg Laue. The 1660 work depicts Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The work has been confidently attributed to the Master of the St Sebastian’s Martyrdoms. Little is known about this Baroque artist except that he worked in Vienna for Ferdinand III, but he was an influential artist specialising in small-scale sculptures of ivory and wood. He is named for the two ivory reliefs now on display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
The 16in (40.5cm) wide boxwood carving shows similar compositional features as well as its characters’ singular anatomy, postures and emotionally-charged facial features. It has a provenance to the Karl Rutter collection in Vienna.
The gallery has compiled the first catalogue raisonné of the carver’s work as part of a dedicated monograph on the piece, which is priced in the high six figures.
STAND NUMBER: 304
Castor and Pollux by Giovanni Battista Cipriani
This year European sculpture and Old Master specialist Tomasso Brothers presents a Roman-themed display featuring works dating from ancient times to the neoclassical period.
A large, 9ft x 10½ft (2.75 x 3.16m) oil on canvas by Giovanni Battista Cipriani is one of the highlights. It shows Castor and Pollux, the mythological twins associated with Roman knights and cavalrymen who played a role in Roman marital ceremonies well into the imperial period.
Cipriani was born in Florence and moved to England in 1756, apparently at the behest of the architect Sir William Chambers and the sculptor Joseph Wilton. He made a name for himself as a painter in the neoclassical style and was among the founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768.
The painting was commissioned in 1783 by George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, for the Saloon at Houghton Hall, where it remained into the 20th century. It is now offered for a price in the region of €400,000.
GALERIE BERNARD DULON
STAND NUMBER: 124
Tribal specialist Bernard Dulon will bring a number of African pieces to TEFAF this year, many of them featuring notable provenances to earlier collectors and dealers.
The display will include a 2ft 2in (67cm) high 19th century wood statue of a woman carrying a bowl on her head which comes from the Senoufo tribe on the Ivory Coast.
It belonged to the artist Jacques Boussard, who assembled a major tribal collection from the 1950s. The piece was a source of inspiration for Boussard who, in an interview during the 1967 exhibition at the Musée de l’Homme titled Arts Primitifs dans les ateliers d’artistes, praised the statue’s “plastic purity, sensuality of form and line and essential stability”. Boussard’s collection was dispersed at auction in 1990. The Senoufo figure will be priced in the region of €200,000-300,000.
STAND NUMBER: 165
Silver and parcel-gilt nef by Tobais Schaumann I
A 15in (39cm) high German silver and parcel-gilt nef embossed with waves and stylised sea monsters made in Augsburg, c.1620, by Tobais Schaumann I will be offered at TEFAF Maastricht by Helga Matzke.
Following the design of the Schlusselfelder Ship, made in 1503 and now in the Germanisches Mationalmuseum in Nuremberg, it depicts the ship’s 11 crew members responding to an alarm.
Six men are attached with the original screws to the deck of the ship, four cling to the Jacob’s ladder and one operates as a look-out in the crow’s nest. It is offered for a mid six-figure sum.
DR JÖRN GÜNTHER RARE BOOKS
STAND NUMBER: 109
San Salvador Huejotzingo manuscript
Dr Jörn Günther Rare Books of Switzerland will offer a San Salvador Huejotzingo manuscript from 1571 priced at €960,000.
Illustrated and written in Spanish and with Huejotzinca pictographs by at least two hands, it references two highly unusual pleitos (lawsuits) brought about by the indigenous people of a Mexican village against their vicar.
Through indigenous testimonies in Náhuatl with signatures and drawings, the villagers level a wide number of accusations against the cleric, including his mistreating and harassing various indigenous nobles, his failure to pay for various artisans of the village for work and taking more than the amount of corn to which the church was entitled.
Only five other codices created in Huejotzingo are known, all of which are held in institutional collections.
STAND NUMBER: 302
Les marches de marbre rose, Versailles by Henri le Sidaner
The 1920s were among the French painter Henri le Sidaner’s most productive periods. In 1921 he completed the oil on canvas Les marches de marbre rose, Versailles, a work that takes its title from a poem by Alfred de Musset.
Lamenting the glittering ancien regime society that flourished in 18th century Versailles, the poem was written on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions and is heavy with nostalgia.
Le Sidaner, who lived in Versailles from the beginning of the First World War, creates a similar sense of poetic melancholy.
The 2ft 2in x 2ft 8in (65 x 80.5cm) painting is signed to the lower right and is offered for £600,000 by Richard Green at TEFAF Maastricht.
STAND NUMBER: 600
Set of chairs by Hans Wegner
Danish modernism is the speciality of the Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery.
Among the pieces from this golden age of Nordic design that it will show at Maastricht will be a set of eight Cow horn armchairs in oak with black leather seats, designed by Hans Wegner c.1952 and made by Johannes Hansen.
This form combines elements of two other Wegner chair designs: his ‘breakthrough’ 1949 Round chair and his Wishbone chair.
The set will be priced in the region of €80,000.
KOOPMAN RARE ART
STAND NUMBER: 156
Renaissance revival centrepiece by Hermann Ratzerdorfer
A 19th century large rock crystal, enamel and silver winged hippocampus is offered for £125,000 by London’s Koopman Rare Art at TEFAF Maastricht. It was made in Vienna, c.1880, by the prominent Austrian silversmith Hermann Ratzerdorfer, renowned for his flamboyant objets de vertu in the neo-renaissance style.
Measuring 18in (45.5cm) high, the piece is carved with scales, shells and fiery dragons, while the mounts are pierced and enamelled with further winged monsters among scrollwork.
LAFFANOUR GALERIE DOWNTOWN
STAND NUMBER: 612
Jean Prouvé table
François Laffanour’s Galerie Downtown is a long-standing exhibitor at TEFAF Maastricht, showing works by pre-eminent 20th century architect designers. Pieces by Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Le Corbusier, Jean Royère and Serge Mouille will be included the firm’s 2018 display.
Among the items offered at this year's fair is a Table à 6 tiroirs of c.1939 by Prouvé, measuring 6ft 6in (2m) wide with its Eternit (fibre cement) top set on a folded lacquered metal base featuring six drawers. It is priced in excess of €300,000.