5 Masterpieces Acquired by Museums at TEFAF
Which artworks presented during previous fairs entered public collections this year?
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TEFAF champions the finest art from around the world. The fair brings together a network of top international exhibitors, who, through a combination of expertise and accessibility, inspire lovers of art from around the world. This article will look at some of the artworks presented during previous TEFAF fairs, which recently made their way into public collections.
Philippe Wolfers, Art Nouveau Wisteria “Glycines” Choker, 1900-02, presented by Epoque Fine Jewels during TEFAF Maastricht 2019, acquired by the Virginia Museum of Art, Richmond
The Art Nouveau Wisteria “Glycines” Choker., a unique piece designed by renowned Belgian jeweler Philippe Wolfers (1858-1929), was presented by Epoque Fine Jewels during TEFAF Maastricht 2019. In January 2021, it was announced that the choker was acquired by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where it has joined the museum’s collection of European Art Nouveau decorative arts. While Philippe Wolfers was the artistic director of the family business Wolfers Frères, he also designed pieces under his own name, of which only very few remain. These elaborate, unique pieces of jewelry often served to promote the jewelry created by the Wolfers Frères company and were frequently taken apart again, which explains why they are rare today. This choker is one of 131 unique pieces Philippe Wolfers created, signified by the marking “Ex: Unique” on the reverse. Through Philippe Wolfers’ personal register, the Catalogue des Exemplaires Uniques, it is known that his wife Sophie Willstädter became the owner of the choker.
Guido Reni, Country Dance, circa 1601-02, presented by Fondantico di Tiziana Sassoli during TEFAF Maastricht 2020, acquired by the Galleria Borghese, Rome
Depicting a graceful dance scene in a landscape, the painting Country Dance painting by the Bolgonese painter Guido Reni (1575-1642) was created during his first stay in Rome at the beginning of the 17th century. It was presented by Fondantico di Tiziana Sassoli during TEFAF Maastricht 2020, where it was acquired by the Galleria Borghese. The painting found its home among familiar surroundings: After the identification of Reni as the artist, the painting was traced back to the 1620 inventory of the prestigious collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, and again in the description of the paintings preserved at the Villa Borghese in 1650. It also seems to have been recorded in a 1693 inventory of Giovan Battista Borghese’s assets in the palace Campo Mario in Rome, after which the painting’s traces were lost. Country Dance resurfaced on the London market in 2008 and has now returned to its former home for the first time in centuries.
The Orpheus Cup, 1600/1641-42, presented by Galerie Kugel during TEFAF Maastricht 2020, acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Orpheus Cup, presented by Galerie Kugel at TEFAF Maastricht 2020, has joined the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The ornate cup, crafted with gold, rubies, and enamel, was created in two different periods by various distinctive hands working for the Imperial Courts in Prague and Vienna. The cup’s lid contains numerous enameled animals and the figures of Diana and Orpheus, which were probably created in the workshop of Jan Vermeyen (circa 1556–1606), goldsmith and Court jeweler to Emperor Rudolf II of Prague. About half a century later, the figures were recovered and included in the cup consisting of the lid, a bowl painted with scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and a base with a gold figure of Atlas. This brought together various artisans, including Johann Wilhelm Baur (1607–1642), court painter to Ferdinand III, likely Hans Georg Bramer (1608–1661), goldsmith to Emperor Ferdinand III of Vienna, and an anonymous Viennese painter. The cup caught the wider public’s eyes in the nineteenth century, when it was part of the collection of Baron Lionel de Rothschild, who gave it on loan during the London International Exhibition in 1862.
Harpocrates, Roman, circa 2nd century AD, presented by Galerie Chenel during TEFAF Online 2020, acquired by the Musée du Louvre, Paris
Galerie Chenel presented this Roman marble sculpture of Harpocrates, dating from the 2nd century AD, during TEFAF Online in November 2020. The sculpture was first recorded in the inventory of Cardinal Antonio Barberini at the Palazzo Barberini in Rome in 1671. Barberini was the nephew of Pope Urban VIII and appointed cardinal at the age of 20, and was said to have “lived a life of liberty and debauchery”. He used his status to amass a great amount of personal wealth and gathered an extensive collection of art and antiquities. The marble sculpture remained in the Barberini family for two more generations and passed through several North American collections between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been acquired by the Musée du Louvre in Paris, where it will be part of their Roman collections, exhibited in the Louvre’s room devoted to religious diversity in the Roman empire.
Jean-François Raffaëlli, Portrait of Joris-Karl Huysmans, circa 1895, presented during TEFAF Maastricht 2020 by Gillis Goldman Fine Art, acquired by Les Amis du Musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie and donated to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris
The pastel portrait of French novelist and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) was made by realist painter Jean-François Raffaëlli (1850-1924). The relationship between Huysmans and Raffaëlli seems to have been close: they belonged to the same artistic circles and Huysmans owned work by the artist. He also wrote glowing descriptions about Rafaëlli, describing him as “a powerful artist.” The portrait shows Huysmans in his famous dark jacket with a strict expression. A key element, however, is the large crucifix with an olive branch on the wall, signifying his crucial role as a declared catholic critic and active promotor of l’art religieux. The portrait remained in a private collection until it was presented by Gillis Goldman Fine Art during TEFAF Maastricht 2020. It was acquired by Les Amis du Musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie and donated to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, where it will be exhibited in dialogue with a portrait painting of Huysmans by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931), which represents the writer in his thirties.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that the choker by Philippe Wolfers was presented by Epoque Fine Jewels during TEFAF Maastricht 2020. This has been corrected to TEFAF Maastricht 2019.
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