The hectic preview day of ‘TEFAF Maastricht’ on March 14 in the Southern Netherlands was, as always, a melting pot of the world’s curators, collectors and dealers.
By the end of the opening day,
although four-, five- and six-figure sales abounded across the
board, there was little in the way of confirmed million-plus deals
- whereas Art Basel sees buyers literally running
onto stands to snap up pieces in the opening minutes, at
TEFAF the big sales are made in a more drawn-out
period over the first few days.
Sales of important Old Master works to
institutions are at Maastricht's heart and, of course, what many
dealers are hoping for, and this year it was the London-based
specialist in Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, Johnny Van
Haeften, who made an early sale to the Mauritshuis, the Royal
Picture Gallery in The Hague.
The sold work was a small
oil-on-copper cabinet painting by the Antwerp-born
artist Paul Bril (1554-1626) showing
Saint Jerome praying in a rocky Landscape from
The 10¼ x 13in (26 x 33cm) work, which
was signed PB and inscribed PB / 1592 to the
reverse, is thought to be Bril's earliest known cabinet painting,
completed after his arrival in Rome in c.1576 and had a provenance
going back to the Earl Winterton's collection at Shillinglee Park,
Chiddingfold. It sold for £399 at Christie's, London, in 1947 when
it was catalogued as by Jan Brueghel. After changing hands several
times, it was sold again at Sotheby's, London in 1969 for £6600 to
the father of the previous owners.
"It bridges the gap between Dutch and
Flemish landscape painting," said Mr Van Haeften after the sale.
"But it also has the curious addition of camels, incongruous in
this mountainous landscape, which were included to draw a link to
Palestine where Jerome spent most of his life."
The gallery purchased the work at
Christie's London on December 4 last year, when it was entered as
part of a European private collection, for £505,250 including
premium, against an estimate of £150,000-250,000.
At TEFAF it had an asking
price of £950,000 but after negotiations sold for £750,000, a
figure that Mr Van Haeften said was below what he had been prepared
to pay for it at auction.
Emilie Gordenker, director of the
Mauritshuis, said: "The Mauritshuis has long been in search of a
characteristic painting by Paul Bril, but this was our first
opportunity to acquire one of his greatest works. With its refined
painting technique, attractive composition, intimate character and
outstanding condition, this late 16th-century landscape is an
excellent fit for our collection."
The purchase was made using funds from
BankGiro Loterij and a private donor.
The Mauritshuis building is currently
undergoing renovation but the painting will soon be on display in
the exhibition Masters from the Mauritshuis - at the
Gemeentemuseum in The Hague and from mid 2014 onwards, will be in
the permanent collection at the renovated Mauritshuis.
Maastricht continues until March 24. A full report of the
will follow in a future issue of the ATG printed newspaper. To
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