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Masterpieces to celebrate a special occasion: TEFAF Maastricht's silver jubilee
Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard Richter, oil on canvas, 200 cm x 180 cm, 1984. Photo: Harry Heuts

MAASTRICHT.- Exhibitors at TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s finest art and antiques fair, have brought an extraordinary range of treasures to celebrate its Silver Jubilee this year. A unique Henry Moore sculpture, a collection of 200 previously unpublished drawings by Andy Warhol, a contemporary artwork that has turned a world-famous Bosschaert painting into a film, and a pendant that once belonged to the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor are just a few of the highlights of The European Fine Art Fair at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) in the southern Netherlands from 16-25 March 2012. Some dealers are mounting special exhibitions to mark the 25th edition of the Fair which has become renowned for its absolute commitment to quality and connoisseurship.

Landau Fine Art of Montreal is exhibiting Reclining Figure: Curved, a unique black marble sculpture by Henry Moore that has never been on the open market before. The 144cm long figure weighing 600kg and dating from 1977 was sold by Moore to an American private collector from whom Robert Landau has acquired it. Priced in the region of $35 million, it is one of the British sculptor’s greatest pieces. Dickinson of London and New York is bringing The Potato Diggers by Vincent van Gogh, priced in the region of $4 million, which marked a crucial period in his development when he returned to painting after concentrating on drawing. Interestingly Landau Fine Art is exhibiting A Stooping Woman, one of the drawings Van Gogh had completed during the year before he painted The Potato Diggers, for $750,000.

Vase with Flowers in a Window by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder is one of the most famous paintings in the Mauritshuis in The Hague and a 21st century version of this classic Dutch Old Master has been produced by contemporary artists Rob and Nick Carter. Their three hour digitally engineered film produced with The Moving Picture Company in London, takes Bosschaert’s painted scene through an entire day and night. The sky changes, stars come out at night, flowers open and close, caterpillars crawl up stems and snails come out of their shells. Made in an edition of 12 and priced in the region of €80,000, this groundbreaking work will be exhibited by The Fine Art Society from London. TEFAF Maastricht has a well deserved reputation for exhibiting great Old Masters and so it is appropriate that Johnny van Haeften of London has brought A Vase of Flowers in a Window with a distant Landscape beyond, one of just six Bosschaert still lifes portraying a bouquet in an arched window with an open air background – the Mauritshuis picture on which the Carters have based their work is one of the other five. Van Haeften is asking UK pounds 1,950,000 for this recently discovered painting. Another rarity in the Old Master Paintings section is 'Mater Dolorosa'an early primitive painting by the Flemish artist Quentin Massys. Dating from 1510, this gold ground picture is fresh to the market having been in a private collection.It is on offer at Rob Smeets from Geneva.

Highlights of TEFAF Maastricht’s Silver Jubilee edition span the history of civilization. Rupert Wace Ancient Art of London is exhibiting a rare Egyptian limestone relief depicting Queen Hatshepshut, who was one of the first women to rule as Pharaoh in her own right. Her reign from 1479 to 1457BC was hugely successful but few images of her have survived. This superb relief, probably from her funerary temple, is priced at €680,000. A beautiful black marble head of the Roman empress Livia, wife of Augustus, and, like Hatshepshut, one of the most important women of her time, is on the stand of Kunsthandel Mieke Zilverberg of Amsterdam. Dating from c50AD this rare piece is for sale for €2 million.

Gisèle Croës from Brussels is asking $3 million for an important Chinese Shengding bronze vessel made 771BC-475BC during the Eastern Zhou dynasty. Only three such pieces are known. Continuing the Fair’s global tour of ancient cultures, Entwistle of London is exhibiting an Olmec mask made from blue-green jade in Guatemala, Central America 900BC-300BC. The life-size mask depicts an Owl Man, a supernatural creature with owl and human characteristics, and is priced at $2.2 million.

Moving forward to the Middle Ages, the Imhof Prayer Book, one of the greatest-known manuscripts from this era and the earliest dated work by the Bruges illuminator Simon Bening, has been brought to TEFAF by Sam Fogg of London. Dating from 1511, it belonged to the Imhof family of Nuremburg, who made a fortune from the spice trade, and was designed to be carried round as a personal prayer book. The price is €3.5 million. The Blumka Gallery of New York is exhibiting Pluto and Proserpina, one of the few surviving works by Matthias Steinl, the Imperial Court sculptor in Vienna. Steinl was one of the finest carvers of his age, and this ivory piece dating from c1690-1700 is on sale for €2.9 million.

Another master craftsman was the great silversmith Paul de Lamerie and his Walpole Inkstand, made for Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, is being shown by Koopman Rare Art from London. Just two of these silver masterpieces were made and the other one is owned by the Bank of England. A pendant that belonged to Dona Maria, the wife of the Emperor Maximilian II of the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century is being exhibited by Michele Beiny of New York. Pelham of Paris has the Beethoven Secretaire containing a clockwork-driven organ which plays part of a Beethoven symphony. Another extraordinary work is Les Nuits, a book printed entirely on wood and commissioned by Louis Barthou, the French Foreign Minister killed in the crossfire when Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia, was assassinated in 1934. This is exhibited by Thomas Heneage Art Books of London.

The 19th century British artist John Martin was recently the subject of a major exhibition in London and one of the paintings from the show at Tate Britain, The Celestial City and the Rivers of Bliss, is being exhibited by Dickinson at TEFAF Maastricht priced at $8 million. The 1841 oil painting depicting a theme from John Milton’s Paradise Lost was described as one of Martin’s “major achievements” in Tate’s catalogue. TEFAF Maastricht’s Modern Art section has grown from strength to strength and Galerie Krugier & Cie of Geneva is showing Portrait d’Olga Khokhlova, Pablo Picasso’s depiction of his Russian first wife, painted in 1917. Applicat-Prazan of Paris has Figure by Nicholas de Staël, made in the south of France in 1954, when he was at the height of his powers, as well as Merkaba by Anselm Kiefer, a cellac, paint and lead work from 2008. Van de Weghe Fine Art of New York is exhibiting Abstraktes Bild, a spectacular large painting by Gerhard Richter on offer for $5.5 million. In TEFAF Design Sebastian + Barquet from New York has one of just three stainless steel desks by the Dutch-born designer Ben Swildens and his collaborator Max Ingrand made for a commission in Paris in 1966. It is for sale for $350,000. Yves Macaux from London has a set of ten chairs designed by Joseph Urban in 1904-05 which were once in the dining room of the Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

Dealers who are staging special exhibitions for the Silver Jubilee edition of TEFAF Maastricht include Daniel Blau from Munich who has a show of 200 Andy Warhol drawings dating from 1950-59. This is unpublished material which has come from Warhol’s estate and is coming onto the market for the first time. Among other exhibitions are those by Tornabuoni Art of Paris with 35 works by Lucio Fontana, Landau Fine Art of Montreal with five paintings by Le Corbusier from the collection of the latter’s muse Heidi Weber, and a stand designed as a temple by Marcel Nies Oriental Art of Antwerp. The Weiss Gallery from London has assembled a magnificent exhibition of 20 early British portraits, including the rediscovered Ditchley Henry VIII on sale for UK pounds 2.5 million and furniture and works of art dealer Carlton Hobbs of New York is displaying works with a royal provenance. Coll & Cortés from Madrid has works by the 16th century Counter-Reformation sculptor Guglielmo Della Porta while Hamiltons Gallery of London is devoting its stand to photographs by Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. In TEFAF Design Galerie Downtown Francois Laffanour is exhibiting works of the French designer Jean Prouvé, Jean-Francois Heim, also from Paris, is concentrating on 19th century Danish paintings and Frank C. Möller Fine Arts of Hamburg has a collection of newly-discovered works by the Berlin glassmakers Werner & Mieth.

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March 18, 2012

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