Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

Elegant Gucci floral print wallpaper adorns the charming interior of a pale green storefront showcasing two biscuit porcelain figures of women named Justice and Peace by Guérhardt et Dihl of Paris. A second pair is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

We’re transported to an elegant, serene, nonpareil shopping journey via the Daatselaar Fine Art & Antiques of Utrecht, the Netherlands, booth at TEFAF Maastricht. Standing out at the world’s leading fair for fine art, antiques, and design requires months of preparation and painstaking attention to detail. Daatselaar succeeds in creating a spectacular intimate space within the massive fair featuring 242 dealers from 20 countries. This year’s fair, which opened to robust sales during VIP previews on June 24-25, runs through June 30.

Justice, wielding a sword, and Peace, holding a scale in her left hand and a cornucopia in her right hand, each stand on a green porcelain base with gilt-bronze mounts. Dated 1781-1789, the statues were created in the preeminent Parisian porcelain factory active between 1781 and 1828. Christophe Dihl, who co-founded Guérhardt et Dihl with Antoine Guérhard, was a chemist, and the factory experimented with new colors and finishes. The sculptor and modeler, Charles Gabriel Sauvage, known as Lemire, is known for unglazed porcelain figures depicting King Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin commemorating the signing of two treaties between France and the United States in 1778, which are also at the Met.

Another highlight of Daatselaar’s booth is a Dutch Louis Seize secrétaire à abattant with jasperware plaques (1790-1795), made of an oak frame veneer with satinwood, rosewood, maple, and cuban mahogany, from a Dutch private collection. It is decorated with marquetry ribbons, foliage and festoons, and flanking Jasperware plaques set in a rectangle cartouche.

Paving stones, cacti, and an intoxicating scent summon us, transporting us to a different place and time through the Galerie Gismondi of Paris booth. We encounter an intricate display, spanning adjacent rooms, of decorative arts spanning the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries along with sculptures, Old Master paintings, and drawings dating from the sixteenth to eighteenth century.

Among the rare works is a panel depicting Schwarzenberský palác (Schwarzenberg Palace) in Hradčany (present-day historical district in Czech republic), built between 1445 and 1567 for the aristocratic Lobkowicz family only to change hands several times over the centuries until the Bavarian noble family gained it in 1719. Likely from the Treasury of Rudolf II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1552-1612), the panel was last held in a private collection. Another panel, also attributed to Italian artist Giovanni Castrucci, represents a view of Prague with houses in the background, the Charles Bridge over the Vltava Rivers, and boats. Both are probably originally from the Treasury of Rudolf II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1552-1612), before joining the collection of renowned antiquarian bookseller Jacques Rosenthal, and then a private collection. active at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, Castrucci was active during the emperor’s court (1552-1612), and in Prague, (circa 1596-1615).

Gismondi captures centuries of elegance and energy, captivating our gaze with a peculiar chest of drawers sculpture from the series Ameublement calciné and Colère by Arman, born Armand Fernandez in Nice, France, in 1928. Arman, a painter, moved from using objects for the ink or paint traces they leave behind (cachets, allures d’objet) to using the objects as the artworks themselves.

While visiting his dear friend Jean Gismondi, Arman noticed the burnt remains of a boulle commode in the Louis XIV manner. The chest, which has been owned by Ludmilla Tchérina, a French prima ballerina, sculptor, actress, painter, choreographer, and author of two novels. Gismondi gifted the organic material to Arman, who took the damaged chest to a foundry and had it cast in bronze. The recreation ended Arman’s Anger cycle, a series of works embodying violent and destructive energy created by destructive acts such as slicing, burning, and smashing objects, making it the object with the highest material and emotional value to undergo the process.

In 2020, the last in-person edition of TEFAF Maastricht, Gismondi invited visitors to a booth featuring the art in-situ, or as the masterworks would have been displayed in the palaces of Francis I and Henri IV during the Bellifontaine period.

Oscillate between centuries with French contemporary artist Alexandre-Benjamin Navet, whose playful work spans fine art, fashion, and design using textiles and decoration, oil pastel frescoes, objets d’art, drawings, and watercolors. Navet lends a contemporary embellishment to the Christophe de Quénetain of booth.

The juxtaposition reframes objects like La Marine, a delicate yet fierce, early eighteenth-century white marble sculpture by Louis Claude Vassé and Antoine-François Vassé. Originally in the Vassé family collection, it most recently was part of Baron Gustave de Rothschild’s collection at the Hôtel de Marigny, a townhouse in Paris on the Avenue Marigny, not far from the Elysée Palace.

Two years ago, the private dealer sourced marble from the ancient quarries used to build the Palace of Versailles in a homage to the Royal Chapel of Versailles.

Paris-based Galerie Léage, focused on museum quality furniture and objects d’art from the eighteenth century, once again stunned fair-goers with an opulent booth that welcomes us to ceiling-to-floor sitting rooms that incorporate the rare objects. In 2020, Galerie Léage showcased a larger room embellished with gold and green woodwork from the Regency period, and a second room adorned with paneling from the first Chateau des Marais, a moated medieval castle dating from before the 12th-century.

It’s been a joyous return to the in-person experience after last year’s fair was virtual amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

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