Published: June 4, 2007
While some contemporary art expos thrive on the heat generated by throngs of jostling collectors, the International Fine Art Fair, at the Seventh Regiment Armory May 10‱6, 2007, takes the opposite approach. Quiet where other shows are noisy, it is intimate, refined, understated and luxurious.
With the aura of a private club, the show is well matched to the personality of its charity sponsor, the Frick Collection, the world-class assemblage of Old Master pictures that is housed in a Beaux Arts mansion on East 70th Street.
Organized by London promoters Brian and Anna Haughton, the International Fine Art Fair recently celebrated its 14th year. Founded in 1994, it originally emphasized European art of an early date and quality rarely seen in American shows. The fair has evolved over time, reflecting shifts in the market’s center of gravity and fluctuations in the global calendar of shows and sales.
The International Fine Art Fair †which this year showcased 60 exhibitors from the United States, Europe and Japan †is solidly grounded in Impressionist and Modern works of art. Over the past several years, its emphasis on Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century American art has grown.
The Thursday evening preview benefiting the Frick Collection drew more than 600 visitors and raised $265,000 for the institution. Through the course of the week, the fair drew members of the American Association of Museum Curators, representatives from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cooper-Hewitt, Dallas Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Pierpont Morgan Library and the J. Paul Getty Museum, along with celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Steve Martin.
Buyers in town for the big Impressionist and Modern art sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s found much to admire in the plush stands, most of which replicate traditional interiors and salons.
Richard Green’s ample stand housed a representative assortment of the London dealer’s inventory, which ranges from sporting art to French Impressionism to modern British painting. Jonathan Green said the firm sold well across the board, parting with a circa 1922 Pierre Bonnard portrait of the painter’s muse and companion, Marthe de Meligny, and a Camille Pissarro gouache on silk for a low seven-figure sum.
British art was well represented in several other stands. The Fine Art Society of London sold a portrait of Eric Verrico, an Italian prisoner of war and poet, by John Minton.
Flanking either side of Mallett’s display, two dozen watercolor on paper botanicals by Emily Stackhouse were also reported sold.
A recently rediscovered and unfinished portrait, $150,000, by Joshua Reynolds, possibly of the artist’s niece, Mary Johnson, was a highlight at Ben Elwes. The London dealer also featured a large, elegant landscape with figures, $800,000, “Las Cascade” of 1783 by Claude Joseph Vernet.
Dramatically spotlit paintings glowed in Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière’s darkened stand, where oils on canvas and paper by Kees van Dongen and Francis Picabia were early sellers.
E. & R. Cyzer of London parted with a large Marc Chagall painting, “Scene Biblique,” 1970, which went to a New York collector, and Amedeo Modigliani’s pen, brush and ink drawing “Cariatide.”
Works by Camille Pissarro and Jules Pascin were quick to sell at Schillay Fine Art. New York dealer Richard Schillay combined French and American paintings. “Harbor Sketch,” a mixed media piece of 1947 by Milton Avery, joined “Kiku,” a 1983 silkscreen on paper of chrysanthemums by Andy Warhol.
Best known as a New Hope school painter, Edward Redfield also did views of Maine. “Off Ocean Point, Boothbay Harbor,” a vibrant seascape of circa 1935‴5, was $415,000 at Guarisco Gallery. The Washington, D.C., gallery maintains an extensive inventory of Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century European and American art.
Owner Laura Guarisco said her firm is especially interested in French painters who worked at the turn of the Twentieth Century, including Henri Le Sidaner, Henri Baptiste Lebasque and Gustave Loiseau.
The Toulouse-born painter Henri Martin was also well-represented in the International Fine Art Fair. Examples of his work were present at Schillay Fine Art, Waterhouse & Dodd and Abby M. Taylor, where “Femme Cousannt sous un Marronnier,” a sun-drenched portrait of a woman under a tree, stitching, was a highlight.
As inventory grows scarce, art dealers are looking to undervalued media. Abby Taylor has recently taken a specialty stake in academic and early modern European and American sculpture, a longtime interest of the Greenwich, Conn., dealer. A bronze of English artist and philosopher John Ruskin by American sculptor Gutzon Borglum was a bargain at $28,000.
The International Fine Art Fair has developed a compelling nucleus of top dealers in American art. One of them, Thomas Colville, made two sales as the show was opening.
“It’s not a high traffic fair, but the people who come to this show are serious. I’ve seen customers from New York, Maryland, Ohio and California so far,” said Colville. The New Haven, Conn., dealer mingled John Frederick Peto’s “Still Life of Umbrella, Carpetbag and Hat,” Henry Ossawa Tanner’s “The Seine †Evening” and a small L.C. Tiffany painting, “Hillside Village, ” $38,000, with Jamie Wyeth’s “Portrait of Andy Warhol with Archie,” circa 1976. One of many New York views in the fair, Andrew Melrose’s “Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, New York,” circa 1880, was $65,000.
“Figurative Averys are always desirable. This one is especially unusual,” Stacy Epstein of Hollis Taggart Gallery said of “Figures on The Beach (Coney Island),” 1935, which hints at the painter’s mature abstractions. The oil on canvas was $750,000.
Babcock Galleries sold Jasper Cropsey’s “Niagara Falls With View of Clifton House” of 1852 to a New York collector. John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Mrs John Scollay, nee Mercy Greenleaf, was $850,000.
Painted a few years later, “Mrs Samuel Watts” by Copley, $600,000, stood out at Debra Force Fine Art.
“This is a nice opportunity for us to show American art to an international audience,” said the New York dealer, who also included a newly acquired India subject painting, $600,000, by English painter Edwin Lord Weeks, an Orientalist master of light and color.
Maine dealer Tom Veilleux sold Arthur B. Davies “Orchard Idyll” of 1896.
New York dealer Vincent Vallarino was off to a brisk start, having parted with two Jane Peterson canvases, including one Venice view, and a Laura Coombs Hills work. A third Peterson, “Luxembourg Gardens,” was $185,000.
Seven centuries of patronage and collecting were represented in the show. Old Masters dealer Jack Kilgore sold an oval painting on copper by Jan Linsen. The Florentine dealer Moretti parted with a small panel by the Master of Bardolino. At the other end of spectrum, Modern and Contemporary specialist Nathan A. Bernstein wrote up a pastel by the German Expressionist Max Beckmann.
Next up for Haughton International Fairs is the International Ceramics Fair and Seminar, June 14‱7 in London. The Haughtons return to New York October 19′5 for the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show.
For information, 212-642-8572 or www.Haughton.com .
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