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Antonio Rasio @ Trinity Fine Art

Rare quality

For some time now each new edition has provoked the same reaction. Against all odds, Tefaf Maastricht is of a rare quality. Through the standard of artworks displayed it induces a kind of state of stupefaction. This year, from 9 to 14 March, the redoubling of efforts from the 270 participating dealers can perhaps be linked to the global context. Because regardless of if it’s economic, political or strategic, things are difficult. Does this support the art trade?

Will Korners

Not sure if we can believe the widespread sentiment among art-world insiders that there is a general drop in commercial activity in the sector. But the president of Tefaf, Hidde Van Segelen, counters that this year the Tefaf is due to receive no less than 500 representatives from museums from around the world, including a significant number of Americans.

Will Korners, director of fairs at Tefaf, adds: “We have prepared ourselves as best we could. We’ve had a lot of experience. In fact, Maastricht is an excellent fair across all price points.”

Sebald Beham

Hans Sebald Beham

One of the artworks that counts among the most modest in size and price at 14,000 euros is a woodcut that’s literally the size of a postage stamp. It depicts a minuscule head of Christ, very expressive, dating from 1519. It was made by a Renaissance master who was born in Nuremberg, a specialist in wood carving in very small formats, Sebald Beham (1500-1550). It is on display at the booth of the eminent specialist in old masters etchings, Helmut H Rumbler from Frankfurt.

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

Every year the Tefaf spotlights a star work of Dutch art. This year it is a painting by Van Gogh from the period between 1883 and 1885 when he lived with his family in the village of Nuenen in Brabant. He made a series of portraits of local peasants living lives of poverty, including this dark “Head of an Old Peasant Woman with White Cap”, marked by the years. (See here the report about the last Van Gogh show at musée d’Orsay).

Bill Rau

A dealer from New Orleans, Bill Rau, has made the journey specially to showcase it. It comes from the collection of a recently deceased Canadian art lover. It is on sale for 4.6 million euros. “This price is reasonable. In 2023 Christie’s sold another head of a peasant woman for 5.5 million euros.” The work presented by the American dealer was acquired at auction in 2014 for 870,000 euros.

Auguste Rodin

The Rodin sculpture specialist in London is Robert Bowman. In Maastricht he is reserving an entire booth as part of the “Focus” section – uniquely made up of one-man-shows – to the bronzes made by the French master.

They all share the quality of having featured in his famous “Porte de l’enfer” (Gates of Hell), the major work that integrated over 200 figures, which is exhibited today in the gardens of the Rodin Museum. (See here the report about the Antony Gormley show at Musée Rodin). They are on sale for between 65,000 and 7.5 million euros for a study of the famous Thinker.

Robert Bowman

“Since the 2000s and the creation of the Comité Rodin, which administers certificates, the market has cleaned up. Identifying the casts of Rodin himself has become clearer,” observes Robert Bowman. “There are two kinds of Rodin fans. Those who are after a trophy work like the Thinker or the Kiss, and those who are in search of specific, more experimental pieces such as a hand or a torso”.

Wassily Kandinsky

The most expensive work at the fair is no doubt a piece presented by Landau Fine Art which shows a landscape made just before the historic shift into abstraction by the Russian master Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) in 1910. On 1 March 2023 the work was sold in London for 41.9 million euros.


Jennifer Landau Evans

Here it is presented for over 50 million.“It is a painting of extreme rarity. A long-term investment. For a long time it was exhibited at Eindhoven at the Van Abbemuseum before it was returned to the Stern family having been looted during the Second World War,” explains Jennifer Landau Evans.

Die Brucke and Otto Mueller

At the beginning of the 20th century two movements shook the foundations of classical painting in Germany. On the one hand there was The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) to which Kandinsky belonged, and on the other, a few years earlier, Die Brucke (The Bridge) which gave birth to German expressionism. One of its “active members” was Otto Mueller (1874-1930).

Otto Mueller

His premature death did not help his posterity, which is relative today. The Brussels-based dealer David Levy is exhibiting a remarkable canvas he made around 1925. It depicts head-on, in a “primitive” style, a scene of paradise lost, a naked woman in nature. On the back he has painted a wild landscape with a body of water. It is probably one of the artist’s masterpieces (on sale for over 1.5 million euros).

Hair growth disorder

Lavinia Fontana

The Tefaf Maastricht is known for being the biggest business platform when it comes to old masters. It is showcasing numerous stunning paintings. This is the case for example of a “bearded lady” exhibited at the booth of the Smeets gallery. It is a portrait of Antonietta Gonsalvus who suffered, like all her family, from a hair growth disorder. It was made by the Italian Mannerist painter Lavinia Fontana (1542-1614).

On 4 June 2023 the painting was sold in Vendôme for 1.25 million euros, the record price for the artist. After a subsequent cleaning and reframing, the work taken from a Burgundy collection is now presented for 4.5 million euros.

The  kisses of Hayez

Francesco Hayez

Certain artists have the misfortune to be associated with a single painting. This is true for example of the Italian romantic Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), known for his “Kiss” from 1859, depicting lovers dressed in Medieval attire fused together in an embrace. The work is the icon of the famous Brera museum in Milan.

At their booth in Maastricht Robilant & Voena are displaying a less famous kiss from Hayez. We see a young woman embracing another young lady, wearing a veil. The gallery explains that it is a scene inspired by Romeo and Juliet when the latter takes the lethal elixir and kisses her nurse goodbye. The contemporary gaze would sooner see it as a sapphic scene. (On sale for 160,000 euros). The painting sold at auction in Florence in 2021 for 69,000 euros.

Salvador Dali @ Mayoral

We come away thinking that the display of artworks on the international platform represented by Tefaf Maastricht, with all the international exhibition it involves, looks set to bring in a substantial profits.



https://www.tefaf.com/fairs/tefaf-maastricht. From 9 to 14 March.

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