TEFAF, in Maastricht, is our chance to exhibit some of our most exciting new acquisitions. We have a varied group of works by members of the Brueghel clan, among them a series of three tondi by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. We are totally delighted to have reunited these works, which depict village life in winter, summer and spring. The spring and summer scenes are bursting with activity, as peasants dance around or jostle outside an inn. The winter scene is quieter: just a few chilly souls braving the cold and snow. It appears that all three paintings are views of one village, but seen from different angles: the same tree – its branches bare or in leaf – figures at the centre of each composition. Just as striking in its way is Entrance to Village with a Cattle Market, by Pieter’s brother Jan Brueghel the Elder. This is the long tracking shot: distant villagers funnel away from us, trudging into the hamlet with their docile cows. The scene is so cinematic that one almost expects the words THE END to appear on the canvas, and the credits to start rolling.
A second group of pictures consists of paintings of the Madonna and Child. The earliest of them is a nursing Madonna from the circle of Rogier van der Weyden, painted in about 1500. Mary’s stylised hair is golden like copper wire, there is a Byzantine flatness to her beautiful face, and the recumbent Christchild is long and lean like an Olympic sprinter. The last of the four Madonnas, was painted by Paul Coecke van Aelst a good half-century later. Its aura is utterly different. This is a warmly naturalistic vision of a flesh-and-blood young mother with vibrant auburn hair. She gazes at the viewer with a kind of detached curiosity, while corralling the wriggly baby with her arms.
Finally we must mention a fabulous sextet of still-lifes by Jan van Kessel the Younger. They are not at all still, because all but one of the paintings is enlivened by the presence of an unruly animal – a guinea pig, a squirrel, a macaw. In two of the works, a monkey and a parrot are upending the bowls of fruit and flowers– they are caught in the act of destroying the artist’s careful composition.
Do come and see these and our many other wonderful paintings – We will be pleased to welcome you there.
TEFAF takes place June 25th-30th at MECC Maastricht, Forum 100, 6229 GC Maastricht.