The oil on canvas, c.1656, was a typical ‘dreamy child’ for Wautier, according to Dutch firm Bijl-Van Urk. Though relatively unknown, the semi-aristocratic female artist from the southern Netherlands has been the subject of growing interest and research in recent years and the picture had a €1.5m price tag.
Old Master sales
Old Masters with chunky prices are the fair’s traditional domain. Running this year in a one-off summer (rather than March) slot of from June 25-30, such picture sales helped bring the event home despite some changes and challenges.
Caylus, for example, sold a Virgin and Child for approximately €1.5m and a pair of still-life Flower vases with malvalocas by Antonio Ponce (1608- 77) for €220,000.
It was “the best TEFAF ever” for Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art, which launched with a six-figure sale of The Old Shepherd by Michael Sweerts (1618-64) in the first hour.
It was followed by six-figure sales outside its Old Masters offerings for works by Giovanni Boldini (1814- 1931) and Giulio Aristide Sartorio (1860-1932). Also successful in the fair’s opening minutes was Rome’s Galleria Carlo Virgilio, which sold a portrait of an unidentified sitter by Charles Mellin (1597-1649) for a six-figure price.
Colnaghi, a legend in the world of Old Master pictures, achieved a highlight moment of the fair when it sold The Triumph of Galatea by Luca Giordano (1634-1705) for a seven-figure sum. It also parted with Portrait of a Noblewoman by Villandrando (1588-1622) as well as a Guatemalan School polychrome sculpture for six figures each. Its biggest-ticket item, however, a marine pen painting by Willem van de Velde the Elder, has yet to find a buyer.
“The quality of material at the fair was noticeably high – perhaps the two-year hiatus allowed dealers to gather more significant works,” said Oliver Rordorf, associate director of Old Masters specialist Nicholas Hall Art. The dealership confirmed two works to US museums and had another of the event’s starring works, a $10m-15m Vittore Carpaccio (1465- 1525) which was reportedly reserved by a US collector.
Rordorf added: “I found the new dates to be nice for dealers (shorter time working the fair and better weather) but we noticed that there were fewer private collectors than normal. Many European and American collectors had already gone on holiday and did not want to interrupt plans to come to Maastricht.”
After shutting down mid-run in 2020 as positive Covid cases were reported by visitors and exhibitors, TEFAF suspended its in-person event. It had hoped to return to its usual March slot this year but reorganised after the rise in cases last winter.
For many, it was simply good to be back. “It went well for me. It felt like how the fairs used to be,” said Asian art specialist Joost van den Bergh. “My stand was very well received. It was good to bring the wide range of objects that I work with – it brought new people onto the stand.”
He locked in a sale to the Metropolitan Museum of Art early on and was one of many who were pleased to see so many institutional buyers out. Chief among the museum purchases was a French early Renaissance alabaster of the Virgin and Child which Stuart Lochhead Sculpture sold for a price believed to be €5m.
Museum Rotterdam acquired a Cornelis Saftleven from Haboldt & Co with the support of Vereniging Rembrandt for €450,000 and dealer Lullo Pampoulides confirmed two six-figure institutional sales: one a painting of Moses striking the water from the rock by Jacopo da Ponte ‘Bassano’ and Francesco da Ponte, the other a terracotta presentation model of St Jerome.
However, some participants found the shift in date problematic.
Besuited dealers struggled through plus-30 degree temperatures in the un-air conditioned hall in the early days, while others bemoaned the frantic pace of the summer season which also included BRAFA in Brussels and Masterpiece in London.
“It was good, but it should have been great,” said decorative art specialist Oscar Graf of the results. He praised the quality of items that dealers presented in general and thought uptake should have been better. His sales included two to US museums.
Then again, others speculated that the sheer abundance of six-figure-plus offerings had been off-putting for less-monied but still important collectors.
Not that there weren’t lower-value works on offer. Martin Clist of Charles Ede said that the bulk of their sales had been at lower levels.
Raphael Valls’ Toby Campell found similar results early on, making two sales on day one in the four figures. Van den Bergh agreed that sales were good “up to a certain value”.
The most obvious setback the event suffered was an armed robbery on the fair’s Wednesday, widely publicised during which burglars, armed with a hammer and – remarkably – chinos conducted a smash-and-grab on the stand of Symbolic and Chase.
Taking place mid-morning with the fair in full swing, the incident was shocking, resulting in the theft of jewellery, a full evacuation of the exhibition hall and a continued hunt for the suspects.
Crucially, while the theft may have affected the mood of the fair, Rordorff added, it did not seem affect sales. And there were plenty more to note.
Newcomer Galerie Sismann sold its bronze highlight Corpus designed by Michelangelo for a seven-figure sum. Steinitz found a new home for a set of terracotta roundels depicting busts of emperors and other figures attributed to Andrea Briosco Il Riccio (c.1470-1532) for more than €3m, and A Aardewerk sold a 1688 wine cup by Jan Diamant for more than €100,000.
Daniel Katz Gallery enjoyed multiple sales including a six-figure corbel in the shape of a lion c.1158-65 by Master Guglielmo.
A Brazilian collector purchased a map of Brazil by Georg Marggraf for nearly £500,000 from Daniel Crouch Rare Books.
Trinity Fine Art found an early buyer for one of its highlights, a posthumous depiction of Antonio Canova by Pompeo Calvi (1808-84) ticketed at €180,000, newcomer Thomas Coulborn & Sons sold a wine cooler for €225,000 and a Chinese export Huanghuali games and tea table with an asking price of €100,000 and James Butterwick parted with Rolling the Logs, a picture by Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Bohomazov (1880-1930).
Strong visitor numbers
“This was a challenging fair due to its shorter length and the different time of year,” TEFAF chairman Hidde van Seggelen said. “We were gratified that visitor numbers were strong in quality and quantity. TEFAF had worked hard to maintain and grow the institutional interest, and the fair benefited from those travelling to Europe for multiple art fairs.”
Whatever the individual results and whatever the challenges, TEFAF is a venerable and much-loved event, crucial for many of its participants.
With this one under the belt, there’s an almost universal enthusiasm to get back to the fair – in March – next year.