Art that Spans Centuries: Colnaghi at TEFAF Maastricht
7th Mar 2020 - 15th Mar 2020
MECC Maastricht, Forum 100, 6229 GV Maastricht, The Netherlands
It is rare that a single selection of works allows you to glimpse almost 4,000 years of art history. For the upcoming edition of TEFAF Maastricht (7-15 March 2020), Colnaghi will showcase a selection of notable Greek and Roman antiquities, alongside European Old Master paintings and sculptures and Modern art. Together, they capture Colnaghi’s wide-ranging expertise, which spans civilisations, mediums and centuries.

Highlights of the presentation include two Roman marble portrait heads of women from the Imperial period. Dating from ca. 150-200 A.D., the earlier of the two sculptures shows a small mouth with full lips, an aquiline nose and almond-shaped eyes. Parted in the centre, her hair is swept back to the ears in deeply lobed tresses, crowned with a coiled braid and covered in a veil. Though her identity is unknown, the facial features recall portraits of Faustina the Younger and Faustina the Elder – wives to Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. A second portrait dates from 200-300 A.D., the unknown subject notable for her poised and alert expression.

These marble portraits are presented alongside Birds of prey, parrots and songbirds, a lively oil on canvas by Paul de Vos (1591-1678), which spans more than two metres. Known to have worked for an elite clientele, de Vos enjoyed the patronage of influential aristocrats in Spain, including Philippe-Charles d’Arenberg, who resided in Madrid. He commissioned de Vos to paint at least 36 paintings of birds, hunts and fables between 1633 and 1640, and the artist also contributed to the decoration of Spanish royal residences including the Torre de la Parada and the Buen Retiro Palace. Thought to have belonged to a larger series, this detailed scene is tentatively dated to the 1640s, and has been in the Madrid collection of the Count of Rojas since the late 19th century.

Additional works by celebrated Old Masters include Ecce Homo by Spanish painter, etcher and draughtsman Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652) – referred to as ‘Lo Spagnoletto’ (The Little Spaniard) in his adoptive home of Naples. With their considered use of light and shade, the artist’s atmospheric depictions of the human form have drawn comparisons to Caravaggio. Ribera’s portrait is shown alongside San Fernando, an oil on canvas by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), which dates from the early 1670s. The leading painter in Seville in the later 17th century, Murillo remained one of Europe’s most admired artists throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, gaining renown for works including The Young Beggar (c. 1645-50), which is held in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Several works are notable for their exceptional provenance, having once featured in the Spanish Royal Collection. Among them is The Return of the Prodigal Son, an oil on canvas by Mattia Preti (1613-1699) – the Italian Baroque artist who was called ‘ll Cavalier Calabrese’ (the Calabrian Knight) following his appointment as a Knight of the Order of St. John in 1660. Thought to date from 1656, the beautifully executed work depicts a subject that was evidently dear to Preti’s heart: this canvas represents a significant edition to known versions of the scene by the artist, of which there are no fewer than eight. It is shown with Abigail Bringing Gifts to David (1695-97), an oil on canvas by Luca Giordano (1634-1705), which shares its royal heritage.

Modern highlights include Le Danse (1929) by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) – a delicate pencil drawing depicting two female figures who glide towards one another as though weightless. Celebrating the beauty of the female body, the work features the artist’s distinctive curves and rounded forms. Known for his unique contribution to Cubism, alongside Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Léger’s bold, simplified treatment of his subjects has also led many to consider him forerunner of the Pop Art movement. It is presented with Site aléatoire: lieux habités (1982) by Jean Dubuffet (1901-85) – a bold acrylic and collage on paper, mounted on canvas, which captures the spontaneity and raw energy the artist aspired to through his unique Art Brut style.


Jusepe de Ribera Ecce Homo, Oil on Canvas, 67 x 56cm.
Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 150-200 A.D. Portrait Head of a Veiled Woman, Marble, 24.8 cm. high.
Roman, Imperial Period, Late 2nd – Early 3rd century A.D. Portrait Head of a Young Woman , Marble , 30 cm. high.
Bartolome Esteban Murillo Saint Ferdinand, 1671, Oil on Canvas, 170 x 114 cm.
Roman Tabletop, Late 16th century, Inlaid marble with polychrome stones, 136 x 94 x 5.5 cm.
Mattia Preti The Return of the Prodigal Son, Post 1653, Oil on canvas, 204 x 175 cm.