Paul Bril’s St. Jerome Praying in a Rocky Landscape, 1592.
MAASTRICHT - It’s a whirlwind, the opening day of The European Fine Art Fair; but by morning, Champagne hangovers notwithstanding, collectors and dealers are back at it, this time ready to get down to business—and business has been brisk from the first moments. By Saturday, only the second official day of the fair, large vacant spaces were already appearing on several walls, including the booth at Van der Weghe, where a Picasso nude on paper, priced at €1.1 million, was no longer to be seen. Red dots punctuated other walls across the fair, many marking sales to museums (such as the Mauritshuis, home to some of the greatest of paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, who nabbed a 1592 oil on copper by Paul Bril entitled St. Jerome Praying in a Rocky Landscape from the London-based Johnny van Haeften for about €1 million).
Van der Weghe in fact boasted numerous sales after just the first night, with their stunning Roy Lichtenstein collage, The Den (1990-96) selling for just over €5oo,ooo to a private collector, and another Picasso painting, Homme au chapeau (1964), finding a new home with American collector Ronald Lauder for about €6 million. At Galerie Thomas, Munich, a Kirchner oil titled Landscape and Path with Trees sold early on as well, going to a British collector for about €340,000. Even Dutch galleries specializing in Hague School and Dutch Romantic paintings, a niche that has been struggling in recent years, expressed satisfaction this year (a significant change over 2012, when most were despairing), while David Smith of Leslie Smith Gallery, Amsterdam, who specializes in such works, also did well with his Australian Aboriginal offerings.
Particularly intriguing of all the sales was Rodin’s Christ et la Madeleine (1880-1909), offered by Pieter Hoogendijk. The marble sculpture was originally commissioned by Karl Wittgenstein and believed to have passed down to philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein thereafter.
Diego Velasquez’s Portrait of a Gentleman, Bust Length, In a Black Tunic (detail).
On the other hand, many of the “big guns” had not moved at all even by the end of the weekend, including Otto Naumann’s spectacular Velasquez, Portrait of a Gentleman, Bust Length, In a Black Tunic remained unsold at $14 million, though with a price like that, one wouldn’t exactly expect it to fly off the walls. Similarly, Daniel Katz’s Egyptian stone Isis, priced at £7 million, remains in place—but that is hardly surprising, given the fact that he purchased the piece only five months ago for about half that amount, marking a record for an Egyptian sculpture at auction. And there have also been no takers for Graff’s $100 million peacock brooch, with its 120.81 carats of over 1300 white and colored diamonds. But then, the fair still has several days to go, and with sales still brisk across the board, both dealers and collectors are sure to find more rewards ahead.
The Egyptian stone Isis being sold at Daniel Katz.