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TEFAF Maastricht 2009 Confirms Art Market Remains Solid
TEFAF 2009. Photo: Pieter de Vries Texel.

MAASTRICHT.- TEFAF Maastricht 2009 is taking place (13-22 March 2009) in the most serious global economic crisis that has been seen for decades. Following the success of the Yves St. Laurent sale in Paris, all eyes turned to Maastricht to see how TEFAF would fare in these turbulent times. The result was what everybody hoped for but few dared to believe that the appetite for the best remains solid. Among the important sales were those of a Degas pastel, a life-size sculpture by Duane Hanson and a pair of Chinese ‘soldier’ vases.

TEFAF is regarded as the most important art and antiques Fair in the world. It attracts private and institutional collectors in all fields from around the globe. Curators from many major institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée du Louvre, The British Museum, The Prado and The Hermitage visited TEFAF. It is a serious Fair for serious buyers. Dealers knowing the high regard in which TEFAF is held rose to the occasion by bringing their very best things – recent discoveries, things that have not been on the market for several decades, the rare, the unusual and the important.

Antiques & Works of Art is the largest section of the Fair, covering all areas of the decorative arts. Asian Art has traditionally been very strong at the Fair and sales backed this up. Jorge Welsh Porcelain & Works of Art, Lisbon, reported meeting many new clients and sales included a pair of Chinese famille rose soldier vases, circa 1750, to a Chinese client, while fellow Portuguese dealer Luis Alegria Ida from Porto sold a wide variety of objects including a rare blue and white pear shaped ewer from the Jialong period (1522-1566). Amsterdam dealers, Blitz Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sold a rare bronze buffalo, Western Zhu, 9th century BC to a French collector.

Lewis Smith of Koopman Rare Art, London, commented on the number of new visitors he had seen on his stand, saying “…collectors find the intrinsic value of silver comforting in times of economic crisis”. His sales included an exceptionally large William III silver-gilt Tazza, c.1700 and an important George III Royal tea urn c.1806. Other silver dealers who reported good sales included Helga Matzke, Grünwald, who sold two important 18th-century Augsburg tureens by Abraham and Christian II Drentwett to a European collector as well as a rare silver Kluftbecher, 1590, from Hamburg and F. Payer Kunsthandel, Zurich whose sales included a coconut cup and cover, c. 1669 by the Master Johann Georg Burchhardt Senior to a new private client.

A similar story was told by antique jewellery specialists, most of whom reported a high volume of sales and noted that named pieces proved particularly attractive. Bearing this out Epoque Fine Jewels, Kortrijk, sales included a Lalique signed Art Nouveau comb decorated with three nymphs, which sold to an American collector while A. Aardewerk Antiquair Juwelier, Amsterdam, also sold an ornamental hair comb, named Oiseaux & Iris, 1894-1905, signed by Philippe Wolfers to the King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels.

The volume of sales in the Classical Antiquities & Egyptian Works of Art section was high with a large number being made below €50,000. Sales were not exclusively at the lower levels however. Important sculpture attracted collectors. Royal-Athena Galleries, New York sold a monumental Hellenistic marble head of Aphrodite to a Spanish private collector for more than €200,000 while London dealer Rupert Wace sold a sensuous Hellenistic marble figure, also of Aphrodite, to a US collector for a price in excess of €400,000. Cahn International, Basel sold an important Greek marble statue of a lion, which dated from c.340 BC.

Furniture also saw good sales. Mallett of London sold a number of items including a George III mahogany bookcase, 1775 to a European private collector, while Martin Levy of H. Blairman & Sons, London, reported the sale of a chair designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the Argyle Street tearooms to a private collector. A side chair by Michael Thonet, Boppard 1836/40, which demonstrated a pioneering technique for bending wood, was sold to the Carnegie Museum by Galerie Ulrich Fiedler, Berlin, whose stand was in the new TEFAF Design section.

For the first time this year design was given a separate, dedicated section underlining its importance as a collecting area. Oscar Humphries of Sebastian + Barquet, New York, summed up the feeling of exhibitors in this area when he said, “It is an exciting moment for design to be given equal footing with more traditional disciplines in such a prestigious environment. The addition of the best of the best of 20th-century design is the final piece in the puzzle and means that TEFAF, more than any other art and antiques Fair, appeals to collectors in all fields.”

Serious collectors of Old Master paintings regard visiting the Paintings, Drawings & Prints section at TEFAF Maastricht as essential. Sales this year were described as solid and seen as a measure of the strength of the market. Amongst the many sales that took place at the Fair was that of a beautiful pastel drawing by Edgar Degas, one of the few to be dated, entitled Toilette matinale, 1864, which was sold by Dickinson, London. Jean-François Heim, Paris, sold Hercules and the Stymphalian birds by Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) to an American collector, while John Mitchell Fine Paintings of London was very pleased to sell The Conversion of Saint Paul by Sebastien Bourdon, one of the most complex and enigmatic French painters of the seventeenth century. Kunsthandlung Helmut H. Rumbler, Frankfurt am Main sold a complete set of La Tauromaquia, which consists of 33 separate sheets by Francisco de Goya for around €300,000.

This year photography was a new discipline in the Modern Art section. Taking part in the Fair for the first time, specialist photography dealer Galerie Kicken, Berlin made a number of good sales and said, “We are delighted with our debut at this prestigious Fair, where we have met many knowledgeable, traditional collectors who are of course the backbone of the international art trade. We hope that next year more galleries specialising in photography will join us here at TEFAF Maastricht”. Other sales in the Modern section included Concetto Spaziale (noir) 1962 by Lucio Fontana to a German collector for €2.5 million by Parisian dealers, Galerie Odermatt-Vedovi while new exhibitor Ben Brown, London sold La Recherche de l’Absolu, 1966 by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York sales included a realistic work Man on a Bench, 1977 by Duane Hansen, which had an asking price of €550,000, to the Scheringa Museum of Realist Art.

TEFAF Showcase took place for the second year with seven dealers taking part. Alexis Renard, an Islamic and Tribal specialist from Paris was delighted with the Fair, and said, “I like the spirit of TEFAF very much, it has fantastic energy. I have met many new clients, in fact the vast majority of people I sold to were new clients.”

At Friday 20 March, the overall visitor figure for TEFAF was down by 8.16% but museum interest was as strong as ever with representatives from over 180 museums from twenty-nine different countries visiting the Fair with many objects being bought or reserved for future purchase. A number of American and European Museums brought groups of Patrons to the Fair. By Thursday over 130 private jets had landed at Maastricht-Aachen airport with more expected before the end of the Fair.

The next TEFAF Maastricht will take place from 12-21 March 2010 in the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) in Maastricht.

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