An excellent vintage at the Maastricht Fair

1. Nicolas Mignard (1606-1668)
The Rape of Proserpina, 1651
Oil non canvas - 116 x 141 cm
Galleria Silvano & Lodi
Photo : Galleria Silvano & Lodi

14/3/09 – Art Market – The Maastricht Fair opened its doors last Thursday. Half a day is unfortunately not enough to take it all in thoroughly even within the limits of The Art Tribune’s field. Thus, we will only cover some of what can be seen in the 2009 edition. How will business be in these troubled financial times ? The very high level of quality at this art fair leads us to think that buyers will be quick to respond regardless. After the Bergé auction, and before the Salon du Dessin, it constitutes a test for the market which everyone will observe closely.

The Fundación de la Orden de la Merced, an imposing painting by Francisco de Zurbarán presented by Eric Coatalem is without a doubt the uncontested high point of this TETAF in the domain of old masters. A masterpiece and a real revelation which everyone is talking about but for which we unfortunately cannot provide a photograph. This dealer’s stand is moreover, even without this work, one of the most interesting, with notably two large unpublished canvases by Isaac Moillon and Charles Le Brun.

French 17th century painting is well represented, as usual. There is for example the beautiful Conversion of Saint Paul by Sébastien Bourdon at the John Mitchell stand [1] and a Rape of Proserpina by Pierre Mignard at the Galleria Silvano Lodi (ill. 1).

2. Hendrick Ter Brugghen (1588-1629)
The Annunciaton, c. 1624
Oil on canvas - 104 x 84 cm
Whitfield Fine Art Ltd
Photo : Whitfield Fine Art Ltd

An Annunciation by Ter Brugghen, unsettling as only works by this artist can be, is exhibited by Clovis Whitfield (ill. 2), while Matthiesen presents a stand devoted to 17th century Florence, including The Seasons, four paintings by Lorenzo Lippi (Summer), Jacop Vignali (Autumn and Winter) and Giovanni Battista Vanni (Spring). The Florentine school is in fact very well represented at Maastrich this year, with several stands offering works by Carlo Dolci and Simone Pignoni ; there is a Cecco Bravo at Canesso (as well as two very beautiful works by Magnasco).

3. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
The Park of the Hospital Saint-Paul, 1889
Oil on canvas - 64.5 x 49 cm
Photo : Dickinson

Within just a few years at least two versions of the same painting by Guido Reni representing The Virgin Sewing came up for auction, notably at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris. They are both for sale today at Maastrich not far from each other, one at Agnew’s, the other at Dickinson’s. The first is accompanied by four angels, the second by three, but both are painted on copper and have almost the same size (around 25 x 20 cm). At Dickinson’s, and hanging in the same spot as last year, visitors can once again see a Van Gogh, but this time a much more beautiful one (ill. 3). For art historians, it is always fascinating to discover remarkable paintings by barely known artists. This is the case, for instance, at the Spanish Caylus gallery which presents, next to a real Ribera, a Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew which for a long time was attributed to this painter but whose author is in fact Pasquale Chiesa, an artist from Genoa active in Rome around 1645-1651.

4. Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804)
Head of a Philosopher with a Red Hat
Oil on canvas - 60.5 x 51 cm
Photo : Åmells

We will only list a few paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. At the Aaron stand, a painting by François-André Vincent, the Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew is proof once more that this is a hard artist to identify as he paints in very different styles. This is a copy after Mattia Preti which seems to evoke rather Venice in the 18th century.
Speaking of Venice, at the Åmells stand viewers will notice a stunning Head of a Philosopher with a Red Hat by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (ill. 4), his head lowered, making it a striking image. Jean-François Heim presents notably a fine small panel by Gustave Moreau (ill. 5), and at the Richard Feigen stand a triple portrait of children (ill. 6) by Ary Scheffer. English painting, in the fantastic genre by followers of Blake and Füssli, is represented by Richard Ward with a fascinating painting at French & Co., depicting Ignorance, Envy and Jealousy, signed and dated in 1837.

5. Gustave Moreau (1826-1898)
Hercules and the Stymphalian Birds, c. 1872
OIl on panel - 18 x 29 cm
Galerie Jean-François Heim
Photo : Galerie Jean-François Heim

6. Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)
Portrait of René, Cécile and Louise Franchomme, c. 1855
Oil on panel - 75.5 x 62 cm
Richard L. Feigen & Co
Photo : Richard L. Feigen & Co

7. Henri Martin (1860-1943)
Idyll, 1932
Oil on canvas - 198.1 x 339.6 cm
Richard Green
Photo : Christie’s

We will conclude on a particularly distressing note : one of the Henri Martin panels from the cycle dispersed last year by the Chamber of Commerce of Béziers (see article) can be found at the Richard Green stand, for the colossal sum of 1.2 million euros. Here is the ultimate proof for those ignorant enough to understand only the value of money that Henri Martin is an important painter and that the Ministry of Culture committed a serious error in not forbidding this vandalism from taking place, something perfectly within its power.

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 15 mars 2009


[1] After its auction at Christie’s last December, the crack across the whole panel has been remarkably restored.

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