TEFAF Maastricht: one of the most powerful art networks in the world

Edition 1 February 2019

The most important art event annually in the Dutch calendar is TEFAF Maastricht. This Fair is organized by The European Art Foundation, TEFAF, a not-for-profit foundation that runs three Fairs internationally: TEFAF Maastricht, TEFAF New York Fall and TEFAF New York Spring, alongside a program of initiatives designed to enrich the global art community. TEFAF was founded by art dealers in 1988 and has a proud history of showcasing masterpieces in every category of fine and decorative art– from antiques, Old Masters and Haute Joaillerie to contemporary painting, works on paper and 20th century design.

Over the decades TEFAF Maastricht developed into the world’s leading art fair, rooted in the city of Maastricht. TEFAF Maastricht takes place every March and provides a showcase for around 275 leading international dealers from some 20 countries to exhibit art from 7,000 years of art history for the discerning audience that visits the Fair from over 60 countries. Every year 70,000 visitors travel to the MECC Maastricht, which hosts the Fair. TEFAF Maastricht is much more than a highly successful commercial event; it provides an extraordinary and vital meeting place for museum directors and curators, major private collectors and specialist dealers. Friendships are made and conversations started that have a huge impact throughout the art world. TEFAF Maastricht is a showcase for the finest art works currently on the market, all meticulously vetted prior to the Fair for quality, authenticity and condition.


A factor that sets TEFAF Fairs apart from every other art fair is the rigor of its vetting. The TEFAF Maastricht Vetting Committees are made up of 200 experts working across 29 categories; they scrutinize every item to be presented at the Fair. During the two days before the Fair and in the absence of the exhibitors, TEFAF’s vetting experts study each artwork in detail, review provenance and research and verify attribution. To do so, they have access to the most sophisticated technical equipment, including Hirox digital microscopes; UV and infrared reflectography; direct digital radiography; and X-ray fluorescence portable spectrometers. They are also supported by the Art Loss Register. The vetting members use these tools in tandem with their own personal expertise and extensive experience. “TEFAF Maastricht is a place to dream and be inspired by the most beautiful objects, all for sale. Above all, TEFAF Maastricht is the hunting ground for new acquisitions for museums as well as distinguished collectors and even beginners or once in a lifetime buyers. You may go to Basel, you can go to Paris, but TEFAF Maastricht is not to be missed.” A quote by Wim Pijbes, Former General Director Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.


TEFAF Maastricht has become synonymous with great works of art over the past 32 years. Exhibitors keep their finest pieces for the Fair knowing that curators from the world’s most renowned museums would come to their stands and collectors would flock to the MECC in search of the very best. Magnificent pieces have been sold across a range of disciplines at the Fair and this year looks set to be no different.

Historical Sales

TEFAF is known for the offering of highly important artworks that are rarely on the market. A rare and recently rediscovered drawing by Michelangelo Buonarotti was sold to an American collector by Jean-Luc Baroni of London at TEFAF in 2002. Mourning Woman, which had an asking price of €13 million, had been found pasted into an album of otherwise undistinguished drawings in the library at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, England. It is an important addition to the known drawings by the great master of the High Renaissance and is one of the earliest examples to have survived. A collection of 200, 17th century Dutch silver miniatures furnished in a doll’s house was one of the highlights sold at TEFAF Maastricht 2017. The doll house was presented by John Endlich with an asking price of €1.8 million. These dollhouses were famous in the Golden Age and the Rijksmuseum has several. A private American collector bought this amazing piece and loaned it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Many Dutch masters are sold at TEFAF Maastricht, including Vincent van Gogh – in 2018, five works by the artist were offered for sale. One of the finest paintings was Lilacs, 1887. This oil on canvas painted in the typical style of van Gogh, was sold by Hammer Galleries with an asking price of €9.5 million to a private collector.

A magnificent example of a wooden korwar figure from New Guinea, was bought by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from Parisian exhibitor Galerie Meyer- Oceanic Art at TEFAF Maastricht in 2010. Such figures represented a recently deceased ancestor and served as supernatural intermediaries between the living and the dead. This example once belonged to the Surrealist poet and theoretician André Breton and portrays a male figure standing behind an open-work shield. Oceanic art’s distinctive approach to the human form inspired the Surrealists.

One of this year’s highlights is a 90 cm diameter golden gilded shield of Achilles designed by John Flaxman and executed by Phillip Rundell (1743-1827). The spectacular shield of Achilles is a supreme example of early nineteenth- century English silver and is a triumphant collaboration between the great firm of Rundell and Bridge and the leading designer John Flaxman. The shield depicts scenes from the eighteenth book of Homer’s Iliad. The reverse has four rings at the rim and centre for attaching leather straps. The arms and cypher on the reverse are those of Ernst Augustus, King of Hanover. Presented by Koopman Rare Art this shield has an asking price of €5.5 million

TEFAF Maastricht 2019 takes place from 16 – 24 March 2019 at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre)
W: tefaf.com