How do I love tea? Let me count the ways

A teapot that be­longed to the Qian­long Em­peror who com­posed 200 po­ems on the bev­er­age steams out of the sale­room and Old Masters at­tract Amer­i­can buy­ers

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

The in­au­gu­ral TEFAF New York Fall Fair, so known to dis­tin­guish it from the planned May event for Mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art, seems to have been suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing Amer­i­can buy­ers who have been un­will­ing to travel to europe lately. It also ap­pears that deal­ers in Old Master paint­ings were sell­ing well.

Given that com­par­a­tively few Chi­nese col­lec­tors are ex­cited by Western art, and still fewer know how to read Old Masters, this re­port from Ro­bi­lant + Voena is re­mark­able: the com­pany sold five works rang­ing in price from $500,000 to $2.5m, in­clud­ing St John the Bap­tist in the Wilder­ness 1610–12, (Fig 1), by Bar­tolomeo Man­fredi, a fol­lower of Car­avag­gio, to a Chi­nese col­lec­tor’.

It was also en­cour­ag­ing to see that Daniel Katz’s 16th-cen­tury Span­ish Me­mento Mori, priced at $150,000 (£120,000), went to a dealer in con­tem­po­rary art.

Among the most ex­pen­sive pic­ture sales at the fair, so far an­nounced, was a Vene­tian Bel­lotto, for which Richard Green was ask­ing about $5m (£4m). Green also sold a fine 237⁄8in by 197⁄8in Smoker’s Still Life, dated 1632 (Fig 2), by Pi­eter Claesz at $675,000 (£545,000).

how­ever, even such prices may have been sur­passed by a su­perb suit of field ar­mour dat­ing from the 1520s in the Max­i­m­il­ian fash­ion, from the ar­moury of the Dukes of Brunswick-luneb­urg, which went ‘in the high seven-fig­ure range’ to an un­spec­i­fied arms and ar­mour col­lec­tor and con­nois­seur.

The fair, which ran from Oc­to­ber 22 to 26, was the suc­ces­sor to the in­ter­na­tional events or­gan­ised for many years by Anna and Brian haughton, but it had the ad­van­tage not only of seem­ing fresh, but of be­ing able to use the Park Av­enue Ar­mory’s won­der­ful and re­cently re­stored pe­riod rooms on the ground and first floors as well as the Drill hall.

The 94 top deal­ers from 14 coun­tries at­tracted nearly 15,000 vis­i­tors as well as cura- tors of ma­jor Amer­i­can and other mu­se­ums.

At the be­gin­ning of au­tumn, in mid Septem­ber, Sotheby’s New York held an auc­tion of im­por­tant Chi­nese ce­ram­ics, which sold well be­yond ex­pec­ta­tion. Of the top 10 prices, five were as­cribed to Asian pri­vate buy­ers (one iden­ti­fied as from hong Kong, two to the Asian trade, two to Amer­i­can pri­vate buy­ers and one to a pri­vate buyer with­out ge­o­graph­i­cal des­ig­na­tion). All were very con­sid­er­ably over es­ti­mate.

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