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Rare Museum Quality Masterpieces at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht
Visitors look around during a press viewing at the art fair Tefaf in Maastricht, Netherlands, 11 March 2010. The Tefaf opens 12 March till 21 March. EPA/MARCEL VAN HOORN.

MAASTRICHT.- Quality, rarity and provenance have become the hallmarks of TEFAF Maastricht and the world’s most influential art and antiques fair has an extraordinary range of important works on show at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) from 12-21 March 2010. Highlights of the 23rd edition of the Fair in the southern Netherlands include a bed that once belonged to the great French diplomat Talleyrand, the Italian Expressionist Marino Marini’s greatest picture, one of the last major paintings by Paul Gauguin and a key early work by Damien Hirst.

The European Fine Art Fair is constantly evolving to reinforce its pre-eminent position in the international art and antiques market and this year a record number of 263 of the world’s best dealers are exhibiting. The increase is largely due to the foundation of TEFAF on Paper, a new section specialising in Old Master and modern drawings, limited edition prints, photography, antiquarian books and manuscripts, watercolours and Japanese prints. All but one of the 19 exhibitors in this section are new to the Fair.

Modern art at TEFAF has grown in strength and this year there is a superb range of modern and contemporary works. Dickinson of London and New York is exhibiting Deux Femmes, an important late Tahitian work painted by Paul Gauguin in 1902, for a price in the region of €18 million. Hammer Galleries of New York, who are newcomers to TEFAF Maastricht, have a magnificent exhibition including Jeune fille assise, les cheveux dénoués (Jeune fille en bleu) by Amedeo Modigliani. This masterpiece, painted in 1919 while Modigliani was staying in the Midi region of the south of France for health reasons, is priced at over €12.75 million.

Among other modern art master pieces at TEFAF will be the finest painting by the Italian Expressionist Marino Marini. Il Teatro delle Maschere, painted in 1956, has been in a private collection for 30 years and is being offered for sale for €5.5 million by Landau Fine Art of Montreal. Galerie Thomas from Munich is showing Seated Young Woman by Edvard Munch, a powerful portrait of Frødis Mjølstad, a friend of the Norwegian artist, painted in 1916. It is priced at €9.5 million.

Haunch of Venison from London broke new ground for TEFAF Maastricht when they brought a Bill Viola video to the Fair two years ago and this time they are exhibiting a key early work by Damien Hirst. This Little Piggy Went to Market, This Little Piggy Went Home, a title based on a children’s song, is a pig in a solution of formaldehyde and is being offered for sale for €8.8 million. Asked why the gallery is bringing this classic piece by Hirst to TEFAF, director Adrian Sutton said: “This is a great Fair and you simply have to bring the best.”

Among the many fine Old Master paintings at TEFAF Maastricht in 2010 is a domestic altarpiece by Giovanni di Paolo. Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints Bartholomew, James Major and female saints is a domestic altarpiece in its original frame and is a beautiful example of late Gothic style in Sienese painting. Dating from the 15th century, the price of this rarity exhibited by Moretti of Florence/London/New York is in the region of €2 million.

TEFAF Maastricht has long been famed for historic works of art and the bed which belonged to Charles-Maurice Talleyrand, the influential French diplomat is a classic example of this. Exhibited by Pelham of Paris this French Empire giltwood masterpiece dating from c1805 was in Talleyrand’s country house in the Loire where he regularly received colleagues and visiting diplomats for morning meetings in his bedroom. The maker of the bed, which is priced at €380,000, is not known.

Ursus Rare Books from New York, who are first-time exhibitors in the TEFAF on Paper section, are exhibiting a rare edition of the works of Metastasio, the 18th century Italian poet and librettist, illustrated by the Venetian Pietro Novelli and bound specially for Catherine the Great. The set includes seven volumes, a box with 30 original drawings by Novelli and they are accompanied by a letter from Catherine herself to Prince Potemkin. The price of this historic item is €200,000.

TEFAF Design, a separate section for modern design, was introduced to the Fair last year and this time is situated next to but separate from TEFAF Modern. One of the highlights of this stylish section will be an exceptional ensemble of furniture from the Indian city of Chandigarh on the stand of Galerie Downtown François Laffanour from Paris. Chandigarh was built to replace the Punjabi capital of Lahore, which was given to Pakistan on partition of the two countries in 1947. The great architect and designer Le Corbusier oversaw the building of this new city in the 1950s and he hired his cousin Pierre Jeanneret to create the furniture for its official buildings. About 20 pieces of furniture from Chandigarh’s Court of Justice are on display for the first time in Europe.

Elton John is internationally famous for his flamboyant style and an example of this is exhibited by the leading London jewellers Hancocks. This 18 carat yellow gold cuff bracelet decorated with a chevron motif set with brilliant-cut diamonds was designed in 1979 by Alfred Durante, the former Director of Design at Cartier, New York. Reputedly three of these bangles were made, two completely diamond-set for the film star Elizabeth Taylor, and the third for Elton John. The price is €52,500.

TEFAF Maastricht | Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre |  | Paul Gauguin | Damien Hirst |

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