For over 20 years, art and antiques dealers in the nearby historic city of Bamberg have presented a relaxing counterpoint for music fans with their Bamberger Kunst- und Antiquitätenwochen (art and antiques weeks), the 24th edition of which runs from July 23-August 23.
Since its inception the Bamberg event has attracted numerous visitors – not only Wagnerians of course – to the premises of the 10 participating dealers.
They are in easy walking distance of each other in the heart of the historic part of the old city, down the hill from the impressive 13th century cathedral.
Bamberg, with its 77,000 inhabitants and its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site, provides the ideal surroundings for the antiques trade. The city combines medieval elements such as narrow lanes and idyllic squares with grandiose Baroque town residences, several of which house local art dealers.
There are a dozen museums in the city, including the Diocese Museum and the Historic Museum, but also several devoted to highly specialised subjects, such as brewing, the fire brigade or nativity scenes.
The exhibitors number some of Germany’s most prestigious, such as veteran dealer Walter Senger, who has been trading for over 45 years and has played a major part in the art and antiques weeks for almost a quarter of a century.
The works he will offer span a huge range in type and price. They include a mid-17th century Silesian silver spoon priced at €3400 at one end and, at the other, the oil painting pictured above which has an asking price of €480,000. It is by Barbara Rosina Lisiewska-Matthieu-de Gasc (1713-83) and depicts the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt and his wife and their court, admiring a performance by the famous ballet dancer Barbara Campanini, who was known as Barbarina. The artist herself appears at the right-hand side of the painting.
The event is, however, far from a one-man-show. It marks the successful cooperation of competitors who have long come to the conclusion that they can assist each other without giving up the personal identities of their respective businesses.
The art and antiques weeks are very much directed to collectors of traditional works of art, such as Old Master paintings, sculpture and furniture from Baroque to Biedermeier.
Several participants do, however, set a more modern tone in their exhibits: the Glaserie Pusch, for example, focuses on 20th century glass, including vases by the French designers Daum, Gallé and Schneider as well as glassworks from Bohemia, Germany and Austria.
A long-stemmed blue and white glass, designed by the Austrian Otto Prutscher in 1906, is priced at €10,000.
Danish 20th century silver from Georg Jensen, Hans Hansen, Fritz Heimbürger and others can be found at specialist dealer Silber Kontor Heiss. A pair of candlesticks by Evald Nielsen has an asking price of €4500.
Among the exhibits at Burkard Hauptmann, who in general is known for 18th and 19th century furniture, is a five-seater corner Jugendstil sofa from c.1910 with an accompanying table, which is on offer for €5800.
Late Gothic sculpture
Sculpture enthusiasts have plenty to choose from this year. Late Gothic pieces, in particular figures of the Madonna, can be found at several exhibitors.
One of the more dramatic Renaissance pieces is a group of The Archangel Michael Conquering Satan. An interesting aspect of the carved wooden polychrome figure is that it is fitted with glass eyes. It was created c.1560 in either Spain or the Spanish Kingdom of Naples and is being offered by Matthias Wenzel.
Among the exhibits particularly prized by the dealership Christian Eduard Franke is a 9ft 4in x 13ft 7in (2.84m x 4.13m) Aubusson wool and silk tapestry with an exotic landscape and a temple from the series La Tenture Chinoise (The Chinese Hangings).
It was designed by Jean-Joseph Dumons who was appointed Peintre au Service du Roi in 1731. Another of Franke’s eye-catching exhibits is an impressive Venetian carved and gilded armchair with original upholstery, c.1730.