TEFAF 2016



11- 20 March 2016

At this year's edition of TEFAF we are showing a selection of predominantly hitherto unseen rare works of art ranging in period from the late 16th century to the early 20th century focusing on Italian art and the Grand Tour.

The pieces we are showing include:

●Four important large-scale drawings from the collection of Prince Henri d'Orleans, Comte de Paris. They are works of the Suiss artist Jakob Philipp Hackert whose views soon become very popularnot only in Rome but anywhere in Europe. By about 1780 Hackert had become the best-known and most sought-after landscape artist. He made the acquaintance of King Ferdinando IV of Naples, of the House of Bourbon, in 1782 and entered his service as first painter to the court in 1786.
The four drawings provide impressive evidence of Hackert's skill in transcribing the features of a landscape, focusing on the aspects that he considered essential.  In dispensing with such factors as colour and the effect of light and shade, the artist records the individual features of the areas through which he travels using only their silhouette, reducing visible reality to a bare graphic structure, yet he still manages to include all the necessary information.  Trees, animals and rock formations are portrayed with intense realism. The drawings are characterised by a crowded succession of different forms that the artist sets against lofty, clear skies, while the presence of rivers and streams is indicated only by empty paper.  Yet another example of Hackert's immense skill, he thus avoids tiring the observer's eye. The artist kept many of them with him because in many ways they comprised what we might call his figurative memory.Writing with satisfaction in his old age to the German poet Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832), whom he had met in Naples in 1787, he said: "I am certainly not wanting for subjects; I have thousands of well-made drawings from nature and so I can claim to have almost the entire Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples in my folders".
The drawings shown at TEFAF, which belong to the first group of artist's sketches and thus to his precious image archive, may therefore be considered important for that fact alone, yet they gain in importance if we consider their distinguished provenance, which leads directly to Hackert himself.
Claudia Nordhoff, considered one of the greates scholars of Hackert, has published two drawings in Jakob Philipp Hackert, Briefe (1761–1806).Gottingen 2012., p. 272 e 612 in 2012.

●A group of 5 drawings by Giacomo Balla (Turin 1871 - Rome 1958) made in his futuristic period and coming from a prestigious private collection. One of the leading founders of Futurism, this Italian artist of the XX century still arouses an increasing interest among international collectors. These drawings were shown in several exhibitions dedicated to Futurism, such as the National Museum of China in Shanghai in 2010, the Guangdong Museum Art in Canton in 2011 and the Gugghenheim Museum in New York in 2014. The latest exhibition was organized last autumn by Fondazione Magnani Rocca of Parma.

● A number of works by the rare and sophisticated artist Italico Brass (Gorizia 1870 – Venice 1943) among which The Cafe’ Lavena in Piazza San Marco in Venice. Dated 1911 and shown at the X Venice Biennale in 1912, it offers an intense and penetrating take on daily life shortly before the start of the First World War.Considered Venetian on the grounds that he spent his entire life in the city, Brass devoted his energies primarily to painting views of the Lagoon; in fact critics went as far as to christen him "the 20th century's Guardi".On the other hand, the three exceptional drawings inspired by the Great War are of a completely different kind.  The war was a theme very close to Brass's heart because he himself enlisted as a volunteer, following in the footsteps of his only son Alessandro who had been drafted into the Army. A token of skill and artistry of this cultured and sensible painter who showed his work in a number of international exhibitions such asthe World Exhibition of San Francisco in 2015, where he was granted with the gold medal for the painting The Bridge over the Venetian Laguna. In 1907 the famous poet Ezra Pound dedicated to him the poetry For Italico Brass, where he compares Brass's painting with Monet's painting who Brass met in Paris and with whom he shared the passion for en plein air style.

● An important drawing by Conrad Martin Metz (Bonn 1749 - Rome 1827) depicting The Triumph of Venus. Dated 1819, is a work of the artist's mature years.  Metz adheres closely to the account as related in Hesiod, who tells us that Venus was born of sea foam.  The goddess, who occupies the centre of the composition, is shown standing on a shell with her son Cupid by her side. On her right hand, Neptune is seated in a large horse-drawn chariot, while to her left, the Three Graces offer her floral wreaths and garlands.  In the background, Apollo drives his chariot across the heavens, where Zeus lords it over Mount Olympus amid the clouds.  Despite the chaos that one might expect to encounter in a scene crowded with so many figures, the drawing is in fact remarkable for the soft and delicate draughtsmanship that imparts an extremely elegant feel to the overall composition.