Some gems amongst the crowds at Maastricht
March 18 2011
It was a mistake to go to the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht on the opening day - too many people. If you happened upon a swarm of freeloaders around a canape tray, it actually became impossible to move.
Still, there were some fine pictures on display. Jack Kilgore had what I thought was the discovery of the fair, a work by the young Rubens. [More below]
Painted between 1597-1600, The Empreror Commodus as Hercules and Gladiator is a rare example of Rubens' early subject pictures from before he left for Italy in 1600. Most impressively of all is the fact that it is in really excellent condition. You can read more detailed cataloguing of the picture on Jack's website.
Rafael Valls always seems to have a fine Kauffmann on display, and this year he had a bozzetto of Euphrosyne Wounded by Cupid, Complaining to Venus (above). Other highlights included Frans Francken's epic Man Choosing between Virtue and Vice with Johnny Van Haeften, and Thomas Lawrence's Mary, Countess of Wilton (below) with Richard Green, both of which are also in very good condition. Lowell Libson had the best collection of English works, including a trio of exquisite Gainsborough drawings, as well as George Romney's Titania and Her Attendants.
There were also some not so good pictures, which I won't mention (at least not yet). The New York Times' review of the fair is worth reading, and entitled 'At Maastricht, the Great Art is Getting Scarce'. I can see their point.