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
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.