Works by female Old Masters, including a rare rediscovered talent, will take center stage at TEFAF Maastricht this weekend

In recent years, the once obscure Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi has become a widely celebrated household name. The artist has been the subject of recent high profile exhibitions at the National Gallery in London and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut. Earlier this year, a new biography of his life has been published. Gentileschi is far from the only female artist of centuries past who is gaining belated recognition. In 2019, the Prado dedicated the exhibition “A tale of two female painters” to 16th century artists Lavinia Fontana and Sofonisba Anguissola. That same year, Sotheby’s presented a major and highly publicized sale of the genre.

If TEFAF Maastricht, which opens later this week, is any indication, interest in these female artists is only growing, with exhibitors showcasing a number of works by so-called female Old Masters, also underscoring the thirst for collectors for the works of these artists. “Our dealers have seen a number of museums add female Old Master artists to their collections, and this is always an area of ​​relative opportunity, as prices are well below those of their male counterparts,” a doorman said. -word of the fair.

Among the highlights is the recently rediscovered Miniature of the Annunciation—Gabriel and the Virgin by Caterina Angela Pierozzi (1677), presented by Colnaghi Gallery. The image of delicately rendered busts of Gabriel and the Virgin, surrounded by a gilt frame with disengage floral ornaments, is the first work by the artist to be discovered. Until now, none were known to have survived; this one was discovered during the preparation of the gallery’s current exhibition, “Forbidden fruit: female still life,now on view in London, which features works by artists including Fede Galizia, renowned for her tabletop still lifes of flora and fauna.

Michaelina Watier, Historical Portrait of a Man as Jacob, Husband of Rachel. Courtesy of Bijl-Van Urk BV

Pierozzi’s only known work and an important rediscovery, The Annunciation (1677), represents the exceptional rarity of discovering the “first” work, and thus of revealing to the world the style of an artist. Jorge Coll, of Colnaghi, told Artnet News. “There are few, if any, examples of this phenomenon in recent art history,” he continued.

The fair will also present a work by the Flemish artist Michaelina Wautier (1604-1689), whose work was, for many centuries, posthumously attributed to the painter Jacob van Oost and to Wautier’s own brother. Wautier first came to attention following an unexpectedly successful retrospective at MAS Antwerp in 2018, and since then has received increased attention from collectors. from Holland Bijl-Van Urk BV will present Wautier’s Historical Portrait of a Man as Jacob, Husband of Rachel. “Standing in the unwarranted shadow of men for centuries, Michaelina finally steps into the spotlight she deserves!” said the gallery’s Sander Bijl.

    Giovanna Garzoni, The Virgin in the Armchair (1649).  Courtesy of Rob Smeets Gallery.

Giovanna Garzoni, The Virgin of the Chair (1649). Courtesy of Rob Smeets Gallery.

Although obscured for centuries, many of these artists were highly regarded in their day. In one case, Geneva Rob Smeets Old Master Paintings will feature a work by the 17th century Baroque painter Giovanna Garzoni – the painting of a Madonna and Child was commissioned directly by the Medici family in 1649, a testament to the prestige it had acquired. “In the very changing environment we live in today, inclusivity and diversity find their place at TEFAF this year through the celebration of great female artists such as Giovanna Garzoni,” said the gallery’s Paul Smeets.

Perhaps the most captivating of the Old Masters works at the fair is English portrait painter Mary Beale’s luminous study of her husband, Charles Beale, presented by the Weiss Gallery in London. The portrait, made at the start of the couple’s marriage, depicts her husband, who was also her most faithful support, with great sensitivity.

Mary Beale, An oil study of Charles Beale (the artist's husband) (c. 1660).  Courtesy of Weiss Gallery

Mary Beale, an oil study by Charles Beale (the artist’s husband) (around 1660). Courtesy of Weiss Gallery.

“These early oil studies – which exclusively depict her immediate family and were painted before she became a professional artist – are the first portraits in British art in which the traditional roles of male artist and the female muse have been reversed,” said Charlie Mackay, director of Weiss. Gallery. “Through these intimate, fluid paintings, she brings to life her affection for her subject, in this case her husband Charles, who would become her studio manager later in his career.” According to the Mackays, the Beales’ conventional role reversal existed far beyond the canvas. “The Beales were a remarkably pioneering and successful partnership, in love and business, that challenged the status quo at the end of Stuart England, so we are delighted – indeed, proud – to highlight this particular example,” said he concluded.

TEFAF Maastricht takes place in Maastricht, the Netherlands, from June 25-30, 2022, with a preview on June 24.

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