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March 17, 2008updated Feb 11, 2013

Buyers From All Over The World Make Tefaf 2008 A Resounding Success

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Maastricht – Major purchases by private collectors and museum curators have made the 2008 edition of TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) in the Dutch city of Maastricht one of the most successful in the 21- year history of the prestigious art and antiques Fair. The event, which finished Sunday March 16, takes place at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre).

So far museum curators and trustees from 18 countries have visited TEFAF. Among the Russian museums was the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Others included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Tate Britain in London, the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Modern and contemporary art, classical antiquities, Asian art, and books and manuscripts were among the sections that performed particularly strongly while, as always, TEFAF’s unrivalled reputation for exhibiting high quality Old Master paintings resulted in many important sales. The American artist Cy Twombly bought two pieces from the antiquities dealers Royal-Athena Galleries of New York.

Ben Janssens, Chairman of TEFAF’s Executive Committee, said: “There is no evidence that the jittery financial markets have discouraged art buyers and in fact the reverse seems to be true. Visitors said to me that they see no point in investing in stocks at the moment and prefer to put their money into art and antiques. What has also been encouraging is the increase in visitors from Asia including, for the first time, two groups totalling 20 people from mainland China.”

James Roundell, who is in charge of the Fair’s Modern and Contemporary Art section, said: “Dealers are very happy with this year’s Fair. They feel that a serious crowd comes to Maastricht, very different from other fairs, and so sales were as good, and in many cases better, than last year.”

The final visitor number is 73,245, an increase of 3.32% compared to 2007 and those coming to the Fair included more Russian and Brazilian visitors and the first organized groups from mainland China. Maastricht-Aachen airport counted 225 private jets, bringing wealthy buyers from all over the world. During the Fair, including the Private Preview attended by a record 9,435 people, visitors drank 17,000 glasses of champagne and ate 6,000 oysters.

Among the major sales at TEFAF 2008 were:

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Old Master Paintings and Drawings

One of the most important sales in the Old Master paintings section of TEFAF was The Sacrifice of Iphigenia by Jan Havicksz. Steen (circa 1625-1679) at Dickinson of London. The painting, depicting the death of the daughter of Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces during the siege of Troy, was once owned by the English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and by 1928 was in the collection of Jacques Goudstikker in the Netherlands. The asking price was in the region of € 8 million.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California bought a major work by Jan Boeckhorst (1604-1668) entitled The Snijders Triptych with Scenes of Annunciation, Resurrection and Ascension from Moatti Fine Arts of London, while a European private collector bought Vanvitelli’s A View of Naples from Cesare Lampronti of Rome. Among London dealer Johnny van Haeften’s sales was Aeneais and the Sibyl in the Underworld, a superb oil on copper painting by Jan Brueghel the Younger dating from 1598. Haboldt & Co from Paris and New York sold four still life paintings to private collectors including Jan van Huysum’s 18th century Still Life, with morning glory, narcissi, aster and other flowers.

19th Century Paintings

The Trustees of the National Gallery of Art in Washington bought Promenade à Moulins, a watercolor painted circa 1885 by Henri Joseph Harpignies from Stoppenbach & Delestre of London while Noortman Master Paintings of Maastricht sold Edouard Manet’s Bateau de pêche arrivant vente arrière, for which the asking price was € 1.3 million, to a European private collector. An American private collector bought In the Dauphiné by Henry Herbert La Thangue (circa 1886) for just under € 1 million from The Fine Art Society of London.

Modern and Contemporary Art

TEFAF’s Modern and Contemporary Art section has expanded enormously in recent years and this time one of the early sales at the Fair was Bill Viola’s powerful 2005 video Isolde’s Ascension (The Shape of Light in the Space After Death), exhibited by newcomer Haunch of Venison of London. Visitors to TEFAF queued to see the video. Marlborough Galerie of Zurich and London sold two paintings and two drawings made by a group of contemporary Chinese artists called 3W (Wei Rong, Wu Erlu and Wang Hao) all to European collectors while the Barbara Mathes Gallery from New York sold a Frank Stella sculpture To Heinrich von Collin, Dresden, December 8, 1808 to another European private buyer. Waddington Galleries of London’s sales included Robert Rauschenberg’s Palms (Urban Bourbon) and two Andy Warhol works on paper The Poet and His Muse (after De Chirico) and Hector and Andromache. A European private collector purchased one of Nicolas de Staël’s greatest masterpieces Bouteilles Rouge, painted shortly before his suicide in 1955, from Applicat-Prazan of Paris.

Asian Art

A rare 15th century Chinese red lacquer box believed to be the largest of its kind was bought by an Asian collector from Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art of London and New York for € 1.4 million while a wooden seated figure of Guanyin, made in China between the 11th and 13th centuries, with an asking price of € 800,000, was sold to an American private buyer by Ben Janssens Oriental Art from London. Antwerp-based Marcel Nies Oriental Art sold his most important piece, a granite sculpture of Buddha Sakyamuni made in 11th century India.

Antiques and Works of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York bought a rare alabaster figure by Gert van Egen, the court sculptor in Copenhagen, from Paris-based Pelham and a 16th century Spanish silver parcel-gilt ewer from Jaime Eguiguren, Arte y Antigüedades from Buenos Aires. Another American museum purchased a late 19th century English earthenware vase designed by William De Morgan from H. Blairman & Sons of London. F. Payer Kunsthandel from Zurich sold several pieces of 17th century, mainly German, silver, including a drinking vessel in the shape of a sailing boat while a South American private collector bought a pair of 14th century wrought iron torchères from Alessandro Cesati of Milan. Richard Redding Antiques from Zurich sold two important French clocks to a Swiss private collector, one for € 350,000 and the second for € 130,000. The latter is an Empire mantle clock of circa 1810 which the buyer first spotted on TEFAF’s promotional posters.

Furniture

Salomon Stodel Antiquities

of Amsterdam sold a Louis XVI table decorated with an enamel plaquette depicting a Chinese park to an American collector. A major German museum bought a late 18th century mahogany and ormolu mounted mechanical desk chair made in the workshop of David Roentgen from Frank C. Möller Fine Arts of Hamburg.

Classical Antiquities

The American artist Cy Twombly purchased a Greek bronze helmet and a large Hellenistic silver urn, both from the 4th to 3rd centuries BC, from Royal-Athena Galleries of New York. Another American collector bought an extremely rare Roman coin, a bronze Sestertius minted in AD72 to celebrate victories in Judea, for about € 100,000 from Tradart of Geneva. Only three coins of this type are known to exist, one of which is in the British Museum in London.

Illuminated Manuscripts, Rare Books and Maps

One of the highlights of the Fair, the 16th century Negrone Hours, containing prayers for private devotion, was sold to a European private collector by Antiquariat Bibermühle AG – Heribert Tenschert of Ramsen. The asking price was € 5 million.

TEFAF Maastricht 2009

In 2009, TEFAF will take place from March 13-22 at the MECC.

AXA Art, principal sponsor of TEFAF

Art insurer AXA Art will show vulnerable artworks to stress the importance of preventive conservation and safety for collections. In February 2008 AXA Art introduced an online blog for collectors looking for advice on art protection.

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