By: Sheila Gibson Stoodley
The European Fine Art Fair always opens in Maastricht, Netherlands, just weeks before the country’s famous tulips do. The 2010 edition, which takes place March 12–21, shows how the fair’s stewards are like master gardeners, always tending their creation to keep it fresh and vibrant.
Hammer Galleries of New York, first-timers at Maastricht, will bring a painting that is bound to turn heads. Tucked among a Modigliani, a Renoir and a Degas pastel will be an 1822 Gilbert Stuart half-length portrait of George Washington, valued at $7.5 million—considerably more than the $205,000 that the late business titan Armand Hammer paid for it at Parke Bernet in 1970. “With a painting like this, we typically don’t advertise it or reproduce it. We sell it quietly,” says gallery copresident Howard Shaw, explaining how all that changed after he visited TEFAF last year and started thinking about applying for a booth. “When they’re looking to take on new exhibitors, they aren’t looking for you to ride their coattails. They want to know that what you bring to the fair will add excitement.”
The fair will add another showcase this year with the debut of a section called TEFAF on Paper, dedicated to prints, books, photographs, drawings and watercolors. All but one of the 19 exhibitors will be new to TEFAF (dealers of works on paper who have appeared previously will keep their established booth spaces on the main floor). The newcomers include Nicolaas Teeuwisse, a Berlin-based dealer of prints and drawings. He intends to bring The Israelites Worshipping the Golden Calf, a late-1620s red chalk drawing by Frans Francken II. Teeuwisse says that Francken painted more than one depiction of the Golden Calf scene and probably made the drawing as a ricordo, a visual reference for his own use, though scholars have yet to connect it to a specific painting of his. “It’s very fine and very detailed in its execution. It is not a first draft,” says Teeuwisse, who has priced the drawing at €48,000 ($68,000).
Perennial favorites will return, as well. Georg Laue of Munich will mount a show of Kunstkammer cutlery that will feature 85 sets and individual utensils fashioned from amber, ivory, coral and other spectacular materials. Some were designed to be used, and some were not; a shell and fire-gilt silver spoon, fashioned in Germany circa 1600 and offered for €18,000 ($27,000), falls into the “not” category. “They loved it and had it in their cabinet,” Laue says, “but it was not used to eat.”
Sam Fogg of London will have a trio of 16th-century stained glass windows by Valentin Bousch that were removed from a French church early in the 20th century. Part of a series of seven windows, these three depict the creation of the world and the expulsion from Paradise, and will be priced in the region of £2–3 million ($3.2–4.8 million). “Except for one or two restored pieces, it’s 99 percent intact,” says Arcadia Fletcher, Fogg’s Western art expert. “We don’t expect to find anything of the sort again on the market in our lifetimes.”
Jack Kilgore, an Old Master paintings dealer from New York, will have a wonderfully serene and contemplative canvas of Saint Jerome, painted by Hendrick Bloemaert around 1630, for $175,000. It shows the influence of Caravaggio, whose paintings Bloemaert would have seen when he traveled to Rome in 1626, and it is markedly different from the Mannerist works of Bloemaert’s father, Abraham. “Hendrick has his own style. It’s more classicizing in a way,” says Kilgore. “There’s nothing Mannerist about this picture.”
Still more new dealers will participate in the TEFAF Showcase 2010, designed for recently established galleries. Nomos, a coin and medal gallery founded four years ago in Zurich, Switzerland, will make an impression with a silver medal designed by Albrecht Dürer, one of only 13 known. Nomos’ founder, Peter Weiss, says the medal, which was commissioned to mark the coronation of Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1521, tested the skills of the city’s mint master, Hans Krafft the Elder. “It was a very unusual medal, so big, and in such high relief, he had to make it in a totally new way,” Weiss says, explaining that Krafft’s method called for the medal to be struck twice, with two pairs of dies, to achieve the result that Dürer wanted. Priced at just under $1 million, the Nomos medal is one of two surviving examples with a special hammered edge, which implies it was a presentation version. Could it have been intended for Krafft, or the Holy Roman Emperor, or perhaps Dürer himself? “It’s a great theory,” says Weiss. “I’d love to prove it.”