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Art fairs

Despite the recession avid collectors are still flocking to the International Fine Art Fair.

Works on paper did well at this major event

The 10th annual International Fine Art Fair, organised by Brian and Anna Haughton, brought Old Master and modern paintings, drawings, and sculpture to the Seventh Regiment Armory from 9 to 14 May. The strictly vetted offerings–billed as “nearly one billion dollars worth of art”–attracted curators from the Metropolitan, the National Gallery in Washington, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Tate, as well as collectors and celebrities from Michael Eisner to Senator Phil Graham.

There were changes this year, with the departure of 11 dealers, replaced by 11 new-comers and returnees. The total of 61 dealers was one over last year’s tally.

Results as always were patchy, with some dealers doing well and others just covering costs. Among the standouts was Jan Breughel the Younger’s “Landscape with a village feast”, a panel populated by hundreds of figures, for which Galerie d'Art Saint-Honoré was asking $2.4 million. This was just one of many fine works on display, and according to the organisers’ report, many of them found their way into private hands, and for sums that suggest the recession has not stopped avid collectors from spending.

Works on paper did especially well. Crispian Riley-Smith of Bond Street sold “one of the finest watercolours” by Redouté,” Hydrangea, Hyacinths, Saint-Jacques Lilies and Daisies, for $600,000 to an anonymous collector. The work was created for the coronation of Napoleon and hung in Josephine’s bedroom. Cook Fine Art, a first-time exhibitor, sold an 1817 Ingres pencil portrait of Mrs Pellew for $450,000, and Klee’s 1935 watercolour “Kopfracht”, for $650,000, not to mention a slashed orange “Concetto Spaziale” by Fontana for $585,000. Didier Aaron sold an unpublished Boucher red-chalk study for his “Daphnis and Chloe” in the Wallace Collection, for approximately $120,000 and a black-chalk drawing of a young girl reading in a landscape by Boilly for around $250,000. Mark Brady reported selling half a dozen works in the six-figure range, including a Delacroix pastel plant study from the artist’s studio.

Old Master paintings sold, including Jean Joseph Taillason’s “St Mary of Egypt in the desert”, which Jack Kilgore placed for around $220,000. Agnews sold Jan Wijnants’ 1679 “Landscape with travellers” for “over $100,000.” And Peter Nahum sold Burne-Jones’s “Portrait of Marie Spartali” for over $200,000. Jill Newhouse sold an oil sketch of a tree by Theodore Rousseau for $20,000, and a Harpignies watercolour landscape for $18,000. A notable object was the unique polychrome ceramic Vase of the Titans, an 1879 collaboration between Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse that David and Constance Yates sold to a museum on opening night for six figures.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘Avid collectors are still out there'