Bright spring sunshine greeted the opening of this year’s TEFAF Maastricht in sharp contrast to last year when freak snowfall disrupted many visitors’ travel plans to the southern Netherlands.
The good weather may have bolstered a largely upbeat atmosphere at the fair - the packed aisles at the preview day on March 13 certainly felt busier than in 2013 - and by mid-afternoon on preview day several major sales of high six- and low seven-figure sums had been announced.
I walked onto the stand of the Dutch gallery Vanderven Oriental Art just as Nynke van der Ven-van Wijngaarden applied the red sticker to the centrepiece, this large Chinese bronze drum stand from the Warring States Period (475-221BC).
Fresh to the market at TEFAF, it had sold with an asking price of €2.5m to a European private collector.
The 2ft 7in (79cm) diameter piece would have served as a base for a wooden pole drum and is embellished with three snakes, coiled around the central sleeve in which the pole would have been placed. Much admired by other exhibitors and visitors alike, it is profusely decorated all over with other small beasts and mythological creatures, such as boars, crocodiles, bats and stylised monkeys.
A similar drum stand with two coiling snakes is in the Shanghai Museum in China.
The fair continues at the MECC, Maastricht, until March 23. A full review with details of further sales will follow in a future issue of ATG's printed newspaper.