TEFAF 2024

March 11 2024

Image of TEFAF 2024

Picture: Instagram via RichardGreenGallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I had the great joy of visiting TEFAF Maastrict last Saturday, the first day the fair was opened to the public. Bearing in mind how many press articles like to explain to us that there isn't as much interest in the likes of Old Masters anymore, I could not believe the sheer numbers of people who were in attendance. Although the fair has cut down the numbers of days from 10 to 7, it seems that the excitement and mood within hadn't dropped at all. 

As ever, it was certainly worth the wait and queueing. The vast array of top-quality works of art never ceases to amaze, as does the sheer attention to detail that the world's top dealers put into their stands. The presentation at these fairs represents a considerable investment of both money and time, which really shows.

It seems clear that works by female artists are taking an ever increasing centre stage at the fair. Rob Smeet's Lavinia Fontana of Antonietta Gonzales (pictured below) was one of the stand-outs (for obvious reasons) alongside Gersina Ter Borch's Portrait of Moses Ter Borch which had just been purchased by the Rijksmuseum from Zebregs & Röell Fine Art and Antiques's stand. Many galleries, such as Dickinson's placement of their splendid Angelica Kauffman Portrait of Jemima Ord, had placed key works in the most advantageous positions on their stands. Sander Bijl's front and centre display entitled 'Wall of Ladies' too shows how important showcasing such works has become. My own personal favourite of the three still lifes by Anne Vallyer-Coster on display at the fair was the following one on Richard Green's stand (pictured below).

Picture: Lavinia Fontana, Rob Smeets Gallery / Anna Vallyer-Coster, Richard Green Gallery.

One of the other great opportunities is getting to see the many various sleepers which dealers tend to reveal especially for the fair. From an auction house point of view, it's also incredible exciting to see the reappearance of previously un-restored works from the sale rooms that have been expertly cleaned and conserved, ready for presentation.

Some readers might remember the following portrait which was shared on this blog back in 2022, which has been presented on Salomon Lilian's stand as Swabian School, c. 1482 as a portrait possibly depicting Eitel Friedrich II von Hohenzollern. The gallery's extended catalogue note draws similarities of the painting to works by Dieric Bouts.

Picture: AB via Salomon Lilian

It seems that some press reports, such as the following article from The New York Times, have drawn attention to the fact that it is museum buyers that are the becoming the most active and growing participants at fairs such as TEFAF. However, the enormous attendance numbers that I saw (and regularly see here on AHN with the large number of exhibitions that are constantly put on around the world) shows that the interest in art from the old world does exist. Unlocking this potential, and converting the casual day-trip art fair visitor into a buyer and collector (at all price points) is perhaps the more difficult and important task. As many readers will hopefully agree, Old Masters (of all qualities and values) are not just for the museum - but can be lived with and enjoyed in the home too.

Picture: AB via Colnaghi Elliott Master Drawings

All comments / thoughts are welcome as always!

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