Mary Lane looks at the Old Master dealers trying to fit their works into a contemporary, eclectic style of decorating and collecting:
“The image of the Old Masters gallery with dark, dimly lighted walls and fusty old velvet curtains is gone,” says Mr. Van Haeften, 61. A few months ago, he enlisted his daughter Sophie, an interior decorator at London’s posh workshop Soane Britain, to update his once staid booth with an edgier look.
Mr. Van Haeften isn’t alone. More of Tefaf’s 60 Old Masters and Impressionist-era dealers are exploring ways to enhance their appeal with younger collectors. […]
Mr. Van Haeften says he prefers not to integrate contemporary works like Fontana’s in his display, and Zurich-based dealer David Koetser is equally unconvinced. But Mr. Koetser was among the first old master dealers to revamp his booth’s look—beginning with his 2012 booth at London’s inaugural Frieze Masters fair, a rising Tefaf rival, where he displayed some works in translucent boxes dangling from the ceiling. These quickly sold.
At Tefaf, Mr. Koetser has picked a select few artworks to dangle. “If you dress up the wrong picture you’ll look like a desperate decorator,” he warns. One highlight at his booth is a portrait circa 1620 of Venus and Adonis by Anthony van Dyck that remained in a private collection and unknown to scholars until 1990. The $9.6 million depiction of a goateed Adonis and a fleshy Venus was likely modeled after the duke of Buckingham and his wife.