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Stair Sainty announces TEFAF Maastricht 2016 highlights
Joseph Franque, Sa Majesté l’Empereur: Le matin de la bataille de la Moskowa, c. 1812. Oil on canvas : 225.5 x 118.5 cm. All images are Courtesy Stair Sainty gallery.

LONDON.- Stair Sainty, the London gallery that specialises in artworks from the 16th to early 20th centuries, will bring a trove of amazing paintings to this year’s TEFAF, including a Goya portrait.

The gallery has always relished the stories behind the works it sells, and this year it will launch a newspaper, The Examiner, which will offer collectors the chance to learn more about the artworks on its stand.

‘The Goya portrait is a great example,’ explains gallery director Guy Stair Sainty. ‘The man depicted is Don Pedro Gil de Tejada y del Saz. It was painted when he was about fifty-four years old. He was a prosperous man, a Spanish banker who lived in Madrid, and from the look of him he probably felt life was pretty good. He certainly couldn’t have imagined that thirteen years later, at the age of sixty-seven he would take up arms against Napoleon Bonaparte’s invading army, an act of heroism that would lead to his death. In The Examiner his bravery is acknowledged with an obituary.'

Another work on display is a portrait of Napoleon. Stair Sainty continues: ‘It shows him addressing his army on September 7th 1812 on the eve of the battle of Borodino. The morning was bright and sunny, as it had been when he fought and won at Austerlitz 7 years before. He had the world at his feet. However, with the Russian winter fast approaching and no surrender in sight, just a month after his invading force entered a burning and deserted Moscow Napoleon was forced to order his starving army to retreat.

‘As they did so, they suffered constant harassment, stalked by hunger and the deadly lances of the Cossacks. The French lost 40,000 men in the campaign, and three years later he and his army were defeated at Waterloo.’

Another work on Stair Sainty’s stand is Salome (1918) by the Spanish artist Federico Beltran Masses – Stair Sainty is currently showing a retrospective of Beltran Masses’ work, Under The Stars, at its London galley, which runs until March 24th).

‘When this painting was first shown at the Venice Biennale it was widely acclaimed,’ continues Stair Sainty, ‘but the press response in London a few years later was largely sensational and negative. As a result the artist removed the painting from the show. The scandal had a predictable effect,’ concludes Stair Sainty. ‘17,000 paying visitors.’

Stair Sainty also has a wonderful portrait of the A Russian countess. “Her name was Litta and she was presented at court in 1775, along with her five sisters and brother, all of whom became favoured members of the Russian Court,’’ says Stair Sainty.

‘By 1781 she had married Count Paul Martinovitch Skavronski who was posted as Polish Ambassador to Naples. This portrait dates from that period. She was by all accounts a good wife, however, as all the court knew, she was also the life-long mistress of Prince Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s lover and highly revered Russian statesman, who was also her uncle.”

The gallery will produce an edition of the paper, which, like The Guardian, is published in the Berliner format, at every art fair it participates in. The print run for the launch issue of the 8-page newspaper is 2,000, and it will be given away free at the gallery’s TEFAF stand (number: 348)

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