Galerie Gismondi at Tefaf Maastricht 2022

Galerie Gismondi | Tefaf Maastricht 2022


Detail of a so-called « Watteau paper » painted paper panel depicting Chinese scenes framed with rococo flourishes, c. 1750-1752

Galerie Gismondi at 

TEFAF Maastricht 2022  

Stand 168 / June 24-30, 2022

Upon the occasion of its third participation in TEFAF Maastricht, Galerie Gismondi is pleased to present a special selection of period furniture and fine art objects dating from the 16th to 20th centuries, reflecting the gallery’s taste for eclecticism and discovery.

Galerie Gismondi’s booth will be divided into two distinct parts. Thanks to judicious scenography, the settings thus partitioned will present on the one hand an exceptional example of four socalled “Watteau paper” painted paper panels depicting Chinese scenes framed with rococo flourishes, c. 1750-1752, and on the other hand a unique set of Himalayan cedar Indian wood panels engraved with flora or fauna motifs, crafted around 1885-1892.

These rare pieces illustrate a specific period in History, and furthermore attest to the interest of 18th-century and 19th-century western citizens, and in particular the British, for “exotic” goods displaying craftsmanship and know-how from Asia. 

Exceptional pieces bearing witness to historical exchanges 

The exchanges established by the French and English East India Companies were not limited to trade relations; they also had a significant impact on the field of decorative arts in Europe. As of the 17th century, the importation of objects coming from China provided a new source of inspiration that was highly fashionable in European courts. In order to meet increasing demand, Chinese workshops soon established themselves in the trading posts of Macao and Canton so as to satisfy western collectors on the lookout for unique pieces. Also, as of 1741, in England, a taste for chinoiseries and wallpaper began to grow. The English aristocracy developed a passion for this novelty and the English ordered entire decors for their residences. 

In the years 1748 to 1750, John Hampden VIII thus ordered from the famous supplier Bromwich and various Cantonese shops new decorations for his country house, Hampden House, among which the four painted paper panels presented this year at Galerie Gismondi’s booth. They were installed circa 1758 in the drawing room of this Elizabethan residence, the first country house to ever be adorned with this kind of decoration.

Such collaborations between Western and Eastern craftsmen further intensified in the 19th century during Queen Victoria’s reign. They also reflect the Arts & Crafts movement that emerged in England during the same time period, whose goal was to advocate and support handcrafted work and creation as well as safeguard traditional techniques and learn them anew. It was in this context that the British Crown created the Mayo School of Art in Lahore, the first art school in British Punjab, for the purpose of preserving the arts from this geographical area. With John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911) appointed as principal in 1875, it brought together Indigenous teachers and craftsmen, including Bhai Ram Singh (1858-1916) with whom Kipling would also collaborate for numerous projects both in India and in Great Britain such as, in 1884, Bagshot Park, residence of Queen Victoria’s third son and his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. Upon the request of Purdon Clarke (1846-1911), John Lockwood Kipling also made wood panels as well as carved wood architectural elements for the creation of a Punjab court and a Durbar Hall for the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. Later sold to the prolific collector Lord Brassey, the wood panels presented upon the occasion of TEFAF Maastricht by Galerie Gismondi allegedly came from these ensembles, most of the remaining elements thereof being kept today in Hastings Museum. On one of the panels, an inscription in Urdu and Punjabi says: “This piece was designed and crafted by the students and teachers of the Mayo School of Art, Lahore;” this included the Indian master Bhai Ram Singh, who in 1890 also designed the Durbar Room for Osborne House, one of Queen Victoria’s royal residences. A drawing presenting a project for an additional room in Bagshot Park, kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, could also be connected to these exceptional wood panels, reopening speculation pertaining to their intended purpose.

Giovanni Castrucci (Lucca, 1541-1595), Bohemian stone panel representing a “View of Schwarzenberg palace on Hradcany hill in Prague” Circa 1605
Antonio Susini (Florence, active 1580-1624) Walking Horse, bronze
Giovanni Castrucci (Lucca, 1541-1595), Bohemian stone panel representing a “View of Schwarzenberg palace on Hradcany hill in Prague” Circa 1605


Are also presented at the fair:

A Walking Horse, a bronze equine statue by Antonio Susini (active in Florence from 1580 to1624), modelled after the equestrian statue of Cosimo I located in Florence, and two hard stone marquetry panels depicting two different views of Prague, after drawings dating from 1603 to 1608 [by Roelandt Savery (1576-1639) and Pieter Stevens (1567-av. 1632)] attributed to the Castrucci family, c. 1605-1610 and reputed as coming from the treasury of Rudolph II, will complete the selection presented at the fair.

Galerie Gismondi

Founded in 1966 by Jean Gismondi, Galerie Gismondi is specialized in furniture, fine-art objects, paintings, and drawings from the 16th to the 18th century and is one of the leading actors within the prestigious profession of antique dealers. The son of an Italian tailor who emigrated to France, Jean Gismondi was born in Montauban in 1940 and was brought up surrounded by the luminous beauty of Italian art – a beauty that never ceased to stir and inspire him and became the impetus for his passion, taste, and elegance. Driven by expert knowledge, profound enthusiasm, and a passion for discovery, the second Gismondi generation, always keen on respecting tradition, proposes today a collection which epitomizes choice, quality, and exception.

On the occasion of TEFAF Maastricht 2022, Galerie Gismondi will also present two important works by the great exponent of Nouveau Réalisme: Arman.

Urhobo (Nigeria) Face Mask (1997)

Arman was one of the most ambitious and visionary collectors of African art of his generation, collaborating with his objects and idols he ended up having them interact with his accumulative and creative genius. Thus, constantly renewing his artistic practice, Arman decided to produce a series of ink prints and gouaches from his collection of accumulations/objects. The Urhobo tribe is a historical tribe of Nigeria, located in the western Niger Delta region. Their masks are used in traditional ceremonies to celebrate the spirits, prevent their vices, and provide protection. Arman wrote of this mystical object that « they are not, in themselves, the being they represent: but only an appearance intended to deceive the vital force they are meant to capture ». A at first glance the work appears mysterious, it is an unnatural encounter in which one is drawn into a foreign universe, but right from the start, the vibrancy of the colors releases an overwhelming force. However, it seems impossible to look away and move on as an infinite number of interpretive paths are now open. For example, that of a complementary alliance between the spirits of earth and water. A calm blue contrasting with the brightness and splendor of gold, as if to remind us of the synergy of these two elements. Or a battlefield, the confrontation between spirits and humans to prevent the gods from turning on humankind. The abysmal depth of the canvas is able to literally transport one to another era and culture. The object itself, the mask, is of no interest to the artist, who privileges the relationship with the object and its meaning. Their original identity as masks is ” masked ” and the artist makes no secret of this. This series seems to institutionalize these masks, to place them in the rank of supreme work, thanks to painting, the most traditional artistic medium. Arman’s choices are never innocent or anecdotal, and we are faced with a work of surprising formal brilliance and underlying rigor.


Commode – Dernière colère d’Arman A charismatic object full of history.

Arman and Jean Gismondi had a unique and strong friendship. One day, while the artist was visiting the gallery, he noticed a surprising object in the restoration workshops, an important André Charles Boulle-style chest of drawers, which had been completely burned down from a fire a few years earlier. The chest of drawers belonged to the famous prima ballerina Ludmila Cherina.

Arman immediately saw it as organic material for his creativity. He asked Jean Gismondi if he could have it in order to subject it to a “wrath” process. The destroyed chest of drawers was then taken to the foundry to be reproduced in bronze.

This “commode” closes Arman’s “Colères” cycle. The Colères are serial works characterized by a particularly violent and destructive energy. In a desire for creative destruction, Arman attacks and degrades objects to create more singular ones. The limits of objects are overcome and erased. The chest of drawers presented here is undoubtedly the object with the greatest material and emotional value to have undergone Arman’s wrathful process.

Arman, Urhobo (Nigeria) Face Mask, 1997 Encre et gouache sur papier 206,4 x 137,2 cm
Arman, Commode Boulle « colère » 2004, Bronze


The uniqueness of this object gives us an autonomous and timeless work. Arman proposes a new approach to this commode, giving it a second life and deconstructing the postulates that bind the viewer to Boulle furniture. It is now a work of art in its own right, not an art object. In this way t, it can no longer be linked to a specific period. The work is cold, icy, imposing a heavy atmosphere and giving off that particularly violent aura characteristic of anger. Working on this burned object, Arman questions our relationship to time and death. The burning recalls the carcass, the blackness, the skeleton, the charred bone structure, the dust, the finite and ephemeral human essence.

Galerie Gismondi at 

TEFAF Maastricht 2022  

Stand 168 / June 24-30, 2022

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