TEFAF Maastricht, the huge international festival of art and antiques, returns to its regular spring slot this year, bringing with it beefed-up security procedures and a larger contingent of young firms.
Running from March 11-19 at Maastricht’s MECC, the fair runs in its regular timeslot for the first time since Covid cases shut it down in March 2020.
It returned as a physical event last year but was rescheduled to the summer in the face of continued uncertainty over health regulations. That edition was shorter and smaller than usual, and perhaps lost some of its usual cohort of international visitors due to its timing.
For this staging, 268 exhibitors are standing, returning TEFAF to its usual size (last year it hosted 242), and there will be a drive to get matters back to normal – or as normal as things can ever be at this very high end of the market.
For Will Korner, head of fairs, it is “wonderful to be back at the same full scale, layout and time as before Covid”.
There will be some noticeable changes, however, starting with security at the entrance to the event.
Last year, the fair was hit by a shocking robbery. A small group armed with hammers and guns entered the fair mid-morning on June 28 while the fair was under way, smashed into the display cases on the stand of Symbolic & Chase, removing jewellery and exiting again. Despite a €500,000 reward on the table for information about the thieves, the case remains open.
Bart Drenth, TEFAF’s global managing director, said: “Members of the public will see a noticeable difference in the security at the entrance to the fair in 2023. Among the more visible security measures will be the deployment of major museum-grade metal-detecting security gates and visitors will be asked to leave bags that are larger than a laptop case in the cloakroom or lockers.”
However, he added, “we are not able to cite more specific strategies as this could compromise the security effort.”
Drenth himself represents another change to TEFAF since the last Maastricht fair.
He was appointed to his current post late last year and now shares his title with Charlotte van Leerdam who is currently on leave.
Bel Etage of Vienna offers this mantel clock by Josef Hoffmann for a price in the region of £280,000. According to the Wiener Werkstätte archives, only two such clocks were manufactured in 1903, the founding year of Wiener Werkstätte: one for Dr Spitzer and the other for the Kohn company. It bears the mark JH WW in oval and monogram KK for silversmith Karl Kallert with a rose mark.
This English emerald oak leaf tiara, c.1850, is set with natural pearl and diamond acorns in silver and gold, and is on offer for $120,000 at the stand of A La Vieille Russie of New York City.
Available for a six-figure sum from the stand of Maas Gallery, this 1937 oil on canvas by Gerald Brockhurst (1890-1978) depicts actress Merle Oberon. The British-Maori-Sinhalese film star was the first of south Asian origin to be nominated for an Oscar, and she played alongside Charles Laughton and Laurence Olivier.
The portrait was completed while Oberon was recovering from an accident that required facial surgery in front of her left ear, hence the strong lighting to the right of her face. After being exhibited at the RA the picture entered Oberon’s collection and was left to one of her daughters.
Among the TEFAF Showcase exhibitors this year is Willoughby Gerrish, which brings works from three private collections.
Artists include Braque, Chadwick, Daumier, Gauguin and more, while highlights include this Rodin bronze. Masque de femme coiffée à la mode de 1880 was conceived in 1910 and this example is one of fewer than seven cast by Alexis Rudier between 1910-26. It was originally in the collection of Judith Claudel, Rodin’s friend and biographer.
Show of intent
Founded in the 1970s, the Dutch event has sometimes been seen as closed off, catering to a band of a highly traditional (particularly Old Masters) dealers.
In 2008 it launched Showcase to encourage newcomers to the trade. This year it is opening up the Showcase section to 10 firms rather than the previous six. In another change, Showcase exhibitors will be ranged around the mezzanine, previously home to TEFAF Works on Paper, offering the galleries more space to show off their stock.
The enlarged number will remain for forthcoming editions as a way of getting new blood into the fair. The expectation, according to Korner, is that successful newcomers will turn into regular exhibitors.
Showcase participants from the UK are Ben Hunter, Callisto Fine Arts, Elliott Fine Art and Willoughby Gerrish. Others featured are Ambrose Naumann Fine Art (US), Frederick Mouraux Gallery (Belgium), Galerie Maxime Flatry (France), Miriam Di Penta Fine Arts (Italy), Pingel Rare Books (France), and Zebregs&Röell Fine Art and Antiques (Netherlands).
Elsewhere in TEFAF, newcomers include Prahlad Bubbar, an Indian and Islamic specialist from London, Rosenberg & Co Gallery of Manhattan offering Modern and Contemporary art, and Parisian firm Galerie Mendes with a selection of Old Masters art.
Expect many familiar faces too. Agnews, Dr Jörn Günther Rare Books, Alessandra Di Castro, Didier Claes, Galerie Chenel, Richard Green and Charles Beddington are among the returning dealers.
As for the objects on offer, some highlights have already been released and are featured on these pages.
Other stand-out objects include a pair of busts by Félicie de Fauveau (c.1801-86) from Stuart Lochhead Sculpture, which will have a tribute to female artists on its stand. Planning a similar theme is Les Enluminures which stages Women and the Book, focusing on the lives of women in the Middle Ages. Its highlights include The ‘Le Saunier Hours’ made in Lyons, featuring a depiction of a female patron.
Artur Ramon brings a 14th century alabaster sculpture of Mary Magdalene while Julius Böhler of Germany brings a brilliantly coloured maiolica plate with a peacock feather motif, c.1510-30.
Antonacci Lapiccirella offers Le quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), a 1940 series of paintings by Italian artist Giacomo Balla, which draws on popular imagery in magazines and film.
The standout painting from Galerie Lefebvre of New York is set to be Panthère noire combatant un python (Black Panther fighting a Python), c.1928, by Paul Jouve.
Lotte Laserstein (1898-1993), an artist who was recently exhibited by fellow TEFAF dealership Agnews, now has her self-portrait on show at Galerie Ludorff of Düsseldorf. This 1962 work is different from her best-known output focusing on nude women, but she is often a subject in her works. The oil on Masonite has a guide price of €150,000.
This Attic black-figure neck amphora, 6in (15.5cm) high, of the Dot-band class is attributed to the Bompas Group, Edinburgh Painter, c.525-475BC, and is offered by Kallos Gallery for £15,000.
Available for £85,000, this bronze by Henri Matisse, Petite Tête aux chevaux striés, appears on the stand of Connaught Brown.
Made 1906-07, it is signed with the artist’s initials HM to the lower left and is 9 of 10 with a unique base.