At TEFAF, the Rijksmuseum buys a Rare and Dramatic Dutch Old Master Painting
The European Fine Art Fair, also known as TEFAF, kicked off March 13 in Maastricht, the Netherlands, which last year drew more than 72,000 attendees to see a mix of Old and Modern Masters, antiquities, furniture, jewels and other art and artifacts. It’s considered one the world’s finest art fairs and this year it features some 275 dealers from 20 countries.
TEFAF is known as the place art dealers bring their best material, and while the offerings cover a wide range of material, the fair is at its heart centered on Old Master paintings; it’s also the place where recently auctioned masterpieces show up following a fresh cleaning (and a bump in price).
Jan Asselijn’s The Breach of the Sint Antionisdijk on the Night of 5-6 March 1651, was sold at Sotheby’s December 3, 2014 Old Masters sale in London for £602,500 (£500,000 hammer price plus the buyer’s premium or $942,431), against an estimate of £300,000-400,000. According to de Volkskrant, it was purchased by the Rijksmuseum at TEFAF from dealer Bob Habolt for €1.2 million, “an amount that was raised through the support of sponsor ING Turing Foundation, the Scato Gokkingafonds and a private benefactor.”
“It is a topical theme, depicted in dramatic fashion,” says museum director Wim Pijbes, “it makes the situation clear at once that we have always lived and Dutch still life under the sea.”
According to the Sotheby’s sale catalogue:
In the late winter of 1651, stormy weather and tidal surges caused extensive flooding in the Dutch province of North Holland, the areas exposed to the Diemerdijk east of Amsterdam being particularly affected. Finally, on the night of 5–6 March, strong north-westerly winds and a high spring tide caused the Sint Anthonisdijk to rupture in two places, flooding much of the city of Amsterdam. There were numerous eye-witness accounts of the tragedy, and as soon as the waters had subsided sufficiently, artists flooded out of Amsterdam and beyond to record the event. … Asselijn also painted the reconstruction of the Sint Anthonisdijk which took place in the summer of 1652, in a work in Berlin, although the two pictures are of different proportions and were probably not conceived as pendants. The Reconstruction is a rather more conventional painting by Asselijn, being bathed in a warm almost Italianate light and peopled by peasants familiar from his Bambocciate, although billowing clouds to the left allude to the disaster of the year before.