The Palais Brongniart, which has been the home of the Salon du Dessin for half the fair’s life, has limited space so the event cannot expand, but that is part of the attraction.
It creates the ambience of a specialist connoisseurial event where the majority of the visitors, many of them academics and curators from the US, UK and Germany, as well as collectors, are as knowledgable as the exhibitors. That ambience is reinforced by the fair’s symposium which features a roster of speakers, specialists in their field and the complementary loan exhibitions which shine a light on collections in particular institutions.
“It is the best fair in the world in its speciality,” says exhibitor Bertrand Gautier.
“The exhibitors and visitors know that. It is a challenge to stay at this level and we are very aware of what creates a particular dynamic.”
Gautier is part of the eight-man committee of specialist Paris art dealers that organises the fair. The exhibitor roll-call is usually split 60/40% between France and other countries (from the US and other parts of Europe). It also has a high return rate with around 80% of the participants coming back year after year, a number of them showing straight after TEFAF Maastricht.
Asked how The Salon differs from Maastricht with its own popular works on paper section, Gautier reckons “the Salon is the epicentre for a number of drawings events so that it creates an event to which people are prepared to travel”.
And underscoring that all-important smallscale conviviality, he adds: “The Salon also has the advantage of being on a human scale.
A visitor can make several visits to the stand and has the time to reflect.”
Does he see new clients at the fair or are they regular customers? Both, says Gautier.
His gallery customers visit the fair but “new clients come from all over because the visitor base is truly international with the exception of the Chinese, who are not that numerous despite their long tradition for drawings”.
Many art world events take the form of gallery trials these days, including New York’s popular Master Drawings, and a small drawings parcours is held for Paris galleries during March.
How does he see the future developing for these two strands of commercial presentation? “All the town marches in unison behind The Salon, which remains the central point for all these events: parcours, galleries, shops and museum,” he says.
Gautier and the other 38 exhibitors, 23 from France and 16 from other countries in total, will be hoping to welcome their usual mix of collectors, curators and new customers this month. This year’s symposium continues the David to Delacroix theme while a loan exhibition looks at the drawings collection of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Further information on the Salon and drawing week programme can be found at salondudessin.com
TALABARDON AND GAUTIER
Specialising in 19th century French works, Bertrand Gautier and Bertrand Talabardon have a gallery on the rue St Honoré. This 14 x 6in (36 x16cm) pencil, watercolour and gouache on paper, above, by the symbolist artist Gustave Moreau is one of their highlights at the Salon du Dessin. Titled The Persian Poet, it is priced at €500,000-600,000.
London Old Master drawings dealer Jean-Luc Baroni is a Salon du Dessin regular and one of the exhibitors who stands at this fair after an appearance in the picture section at TEFAF Maastricht.
“It has the best informed public and its mission is to increase connoisseurship rather than offer immediate satisfaction,” he says of The Salon.
He will be offering this 11 x 8½in (28 x 21cm) black chalk and stump head of an elderly man by the 16th century German artist Hans Baldung Grien, which is priced in excess of €500,000.
DAMIEN BOQUET ART
Gino Severini’s 19 x 16½in (48 x 42cm) masked head of Punchinello in charcoal on paper dated to c.1922-23, pictured right, is a study for the main figure in the artist’s The Two Punchinellos, now in the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague. It is one of the works that Damien Boquet Art from Paris is showing at The Salon, where it is priced in the region of €30,000.
Left-bank Paris dealer Vincent Lecuyer makes a return to the Salon du Dessin this year and will be taking this 12 x 10½in (31 x 26.5cm) charcoal study of the German society portraitist Franz von Lenbach, pictured left. It is by Edward Steichen, who is arguably better known as a photographer, but came to Paris in 1900 to study painting at the Academie Julian. The work is priced at €25,000.