Published: June 18, 2002
A Half a Billion Dollars Worth of Artwork Spanning Six Centuries:
By Genevieve S. Ward
NEW YORK CITY – For six days in the beginning of May, an international crowd of major collectors and art enthusiasts heads to the Seventh Regiment Armory for . The premier exhibition, presented by Brian and Anna Haughton, includes fine art spanning six centuries, from Renaissance through Modern art.
With the installation of air conditioning, this year’s show was immediate improvement on last year’s fair. Dealers and visitors alike applauded the change, which made the Armory much more comfortable for strolling through a fair that deserved an entire afternoon of one’s time.
Each year the affair begins with a gala opening party, which this year was host to a crowd of 1,000 patrons, nearly a third of which stayed for the benefit dinner. The opening raised more than $650,000 for the show’s charity, the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.
A vetting committee chaired by Alan Salz inspected the artwork, which was valued at about half a billion dollars, according to show promoters.
The loan exhibit this year displayed The Brummer Collection of Medieval Art from the Duke University Museum of Art. The lavish catalog included essays by Susanne Stratton-Pruitt and Hugh Belsey, as well as a directory of exhibitors and highlights from each booth.
“We were delighted that business was so good for so many galleries,” said Anna Haughton, who, along with her husband Brian, has run the show for the past nine years. “With this show, it is important to stress that many things are being discussed after the show.”
Even up to six months afterwards, curators are still making decisions and, hopefully, acquisitions. Sales ranged from several thousand to several million dollars. Visitors ranged from the curious art lover to the famously rich to the important curators. The Haughtons reported that approximately 100 museum curators attended, coming from The National Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Tate Gallery, The Frick Collection, the Princeton Art Museum and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard. According to Ms Haughton, “This is a specialized show. The visitors are very interested, and are not just wandering around the fair.”
Among the new dealers at this year’s fair were The Greenwich Gallery, Questroyal Fine Art, James Francis Trezza and Elwes & Hanham, all of whom reported having excellent sales. A number of other dealers returned after a brief absence. Most of the dealer roster has, however, been consistent since the start of the show.
Galerie Antoine Laurentin was one of the several dealers returning after an absence from the show. Bernheimer Colnaghi was a new name combination, after Bernheimer’s acquisition of Colnaghi last year. Missing this year were several London dealers, who had gone out of business in 2001. Some dealers enjoyed bigger exhibit space as a result of the changes.
While provides an unparalleled setting for the show’s content, it does have challenges that other, more narrow shows do not have. From the dealers’ vantage point, there is always a lack of press coverage on one of the many movements that are included in the fair’s broad parameters. For example, one dealer commented this year that there was an unprecedented lack of interest in (and press coverage of) Old Masters, noting, “The Haughtons did a fabulous job of organization this year but a lot of the Old Master dealers were very discouraged by the lack of sales they made.”
Many dealers, however, enjoyed selling important pieces to important collectors and curators. Deborah Pesci commented, “Our gallery has always liked participating in . The dealers and the collections shown are of a very high caliber and the management, the Haughtons, continue to orchestrate fairs of the highest standard.
“Our booth had a sampling of both Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American art. One of the highlights was a work by Reginald Marsh, ‘Dali’s Dream of Venus.’ It is extraordinary watercolor and gouache representation of Marsh’s response to the 1939 World’s Fair pavilion that Dali created.”
Crispian Riley-Smith reported, “This was first time that I have been invited to exhibit at what is regarded amongst the trade and collectors as the most important Old Master/Modern fair for paintings and drawings.”
The London-based drawings specialist recalled, “The sales for me were good; I sold about 60 drawings. Over 50 were drawings by the same artist: Adolphe-Felix Cals. I brought with me over 100 drawings by this Nineteenth Century pre-Impressionist, who knew artists such as Jongkind and Monet, and exhibited in some of the Impressionist exhibitions, though he also was exhibiting at the Salon in the 1840s.”
Other pieces of artwork in Riley-Smith’s display included a circa 1560 drawing by Giovanni Bandini titled “A Saint,” which attracted the attention of several museum curators. It is rare because, the dealer noted, “it is the only drawing by this artist from this series of Saints that is not in a museum.” Another highlight was a circa 1790 drawing by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo titled “Sermon on the Mount.” The dealer noted that Tiepolo will be featured in an exhibition at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne in November 2004.
In addition to showcasing rare and important works, Riley-Smith was particularly pleased with the productive milieu of the fair. “I met museum curators who I knew by name but not by sight, and they were able to see my stock in a nice and conducive atmosphere. I met numerous collectors who I also only knew by name, but not personally. I saw fellow dealers, saw their stock and caught up with colleagues.”
The fair is not only known for the incomparable list of artists, but also for the finest examples of an artist’s oeuvre. Attracting interest at Thomas Williams’s booth was “Portrait of a Young Woman,” by Michael Dahl, while a highlight of Bob Haboldt’s booth was an enormous still life by The Master of the Hartford Still-life (Lombard or Spain, active circa 1590-1610). A Melchior D’Hondecoeter oil depicting Bantams and pigeons was featured at Rafael Valls.
Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries displayed James Joseph Tissot’s “Reading a Book.” This captivating work is one of Tissot’s earliest pieces executed in London, and, according to the dealer, shows an “enthusiasm for English Life…with its expression of playful amusement” as a well-dressed young lady reads, her gleeful expression contagious to the viewer.
Galerie Canesso of Paris sold three paintings, including two Florentine paintings and “The Four Greyhounds” by Simone del Tinto.
Flavia Ormond reported selling “Young Artist Drawing in a Roman Bath Building” by Hubert Robert (French, Eighteenth Century). Ormond noted, “The drawing that attracted the most interest, however, was the Guercino drawing of ‘Esther Fainting into the Arms of Two Attendants.'” She added, “Here is a case where a new buyer in Old Master drawings could have acquired a stunning work by an extremely well-known Seventeenth Century Italian draughtsman.”
Gerald Peters Gallery of New York exhibited a fine example by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) of a favorite Cézanne subject, Mont Saint-Victoire, an oil on canvas of 1927. Also on view was Georgia O’Keeffe’s “White Primrose,” a 1947 oil on canvas measuring 26 by 20 inches. Another lovely painting was George Hitchcock’s (1850-1913) “Dutch Girl in Field of Tulips.”
Twentieth Century still lifes by Max Weber and Joseph Stella were available from Beadleston Gallery, New York City, while Hollis Taggart showed works by Martin Johnson Heade, Eliza B. Duffey, William Mason Brown and a collection of works by Frederick Carl Frieseke.
Sculpture at Robert Bowman’s display took the form of an elegant swan — perched atop a young woman. The bronze, stamped with foundry mark, is by Enzo Plazzotta (Italian, 1921-81). Another sculpture, this one marble, was by Enrico Astorri (Italian, 1859-1921) and was titled “Compagni di Sventura” (“Companions in Adversity”).
New dealer Questroyal of New York City brought fine examples by Martin Johnson Heade, Guy Wiggins, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Cole and Jasper Cropsey, and a Childe Hassam oil, “Rye Madelaine, Place de l’Opera” sold on the first day of the show.
Sales at Richard Green’s included an Edgar Degas pastel, “Danseuse,” while sales of a different medium at David & Constance Yates included cast bronze reliefs by Jean Francois Raffaelli.
The Haughtons’ next appearance in New York will be The International Art + Design Fair 1900-2001, which will run September 27 to October 1.
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