10 reasons why you must visit BRAFA 2017

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Bronze Femme Drappée Ernerst Barrias 1893

Bronze Femme Drappée, Ernerst Barrias, 1893

One of Europe’s leading Art and Antiques Fairs, the BRAFA, has perched on the west-banks of the Brussels Canal again. Location of the event is the spectacular Tour & Taxis, a larger than life building that was used for custom clearance and storage of goods in the early 1900s.

I attended the Exclusive Viewing last friday and my expectations were high. Last year, you see, I discovered several spectacular pieces and I was hoping for at least the same level of indulgence this year. Well, I wasn’t disappointed!

Let me give you 10 reasons why you too must visit the BRAFA 2017.

1. Lancz Gallery

Patrick Lancz (BRAFA 15d) is a specialist in paintings dating from between 1880 and 1930. He primarily presents works produced by the Belgian school. But what struck me the most last year, was the sheer number of exclusive Art Nouveau frames the Lancz Gallery showed. So the first thing I wanted to see this year, were Patrick Lancz’s frames. And you know what? He did it again! Excellent, because I love those unique wooden Art Nouveau frames!

2. Janssens van der Maelen

I do not remember seeing this exhibitor (BRAFA 86d) last year and honestly that scares me a little as this year’s collection is stunning! It makes me wonder what I have missed. The Gallery is recognized internationally for specializing in silver from France, Belgium and Russia. Think Philippe Wolfers, Carl Fjerdingstad, Cardeilhac, Georg Jensen, Karl Fabergé… Art Deco and Art Nouveau. Need I say more? Just look at the stunning items they are showing at the fair. Wow!

3. Gallery Alexis Bordes

Again, Alexis Bordes (BRAFA 116c) brought a beautiful bronze to the BRAFA. ‘Jeune Femme en Habit Médiéval’ (Young woman in medieval dress) by Suzanne Bizard (1872-1963) caught my eye immediately! But Alexis Bordes actually specializes in drawings. He exhibits – and that is merely my humble opinion – the most interesting graphical work at the BRAFA: a hand coloured 1895 photograph ‘Le Silence‘ by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865-1953). I díd see this photo before though… at the BRAFA 2016!

4. Epoque Fine Jewels

Epoque Fine Jewels (BRAFA 71b) is worth the trip to Brussels alone. This family owned firm specializes in the very finest of jewellery from the 19th and the 20th century. And of course it is always a pleasure to talk with Patricia de Wit, daughter of Nicole Verschuere who founded the company in 1958. Patricia is never too busy to show me the best Art Nouveau jewellery she’s brought to the Fair. And this year, that would be the spectacular Chaine de Corsage designed by Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) and executed by Georges Fouquet (1862-1957). When I wrote about this mesmerizing necklace last month, I couldn’t stop wondering whom this necklace once belonged to…

One thing is for sure: she was a lucky lady!

Art Nouveau 'Chaine de Corsage' by Fouquet and Mucha

Art Nouveau ‘Chaine de Corsage’ by Fouquet and Mucha

5. Gallery Ary Jan

Mathias Ary Jan (BRAFA 62a) specializes in French academic paintings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His gallery exhibits genre and interior scenes, Belle Epoque subjects and a selection of rare Orientalist paintings. And of course I am always on the lookout for Art Nouveau works. But I can appreciate a good Orientalist painting too. (Do you remember my trip to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille?) I found almost every painting Ary Jan exhibits at the BRAFA to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Want to see the Belle Epoque and Orientalist paintings as well? (You do!) Do yourself a favour and get a coffee before you go here, so you can take your time to fully enjoy all the other captivating works of art.

6. Univers du Bronze

Owners Michel Poletti and Alain Richarme (BRAFA 59a) specialize in bronze sculptures of the 19th and 20th centuries. Last year, I was smitten with their statue ‘Femme Kabyle’ by Charles Bigonet (1877-1931). And I’m afraid that is why they couldn’t touch me in a similar way this time. After that beautiful Kabyle lady, it seems fairly impossible to raise the bar even higher. Yet, they had a few beautiful bronzes in their extensive collection.

7. CLAM – Belgian Antiquarian Booksellers Association

Books, books, books… and more books. That’s what you’ll find at the Belgian Antiquarian Booksellers Association (BRAFA 50a). And boy, do I love old books!

I have selected 2 books and a rare woodcut to show you. Le Roman de Tristan et Iseut (1900) by Joseph Bédier and The Bells and other Poems (1913) by Edgar Allan Poe with illustrations by one of my favourite artists Edmund Dulac. The woodcut in 9 colours is called ‘Les Princesses à la Terrasse’ (circa 1894) and was created by Paul-Elie Ranson (1861-1909), a French painter, engraver and member of the Nabi group. The woodcut is numbered 3/10.

8. Gallery Cento Anni

Maria Isabel Romero and Rodrigo Diaz specialize in exceptional Art Nouveau and Art Deco works of art. Their collection contains a mind-boggling number of (Art Deco) Chiparus statues. But they exhibit some pretty Gallé vases as well.

And Reasons 9. and 10. to visit the BRAFA 2017

There are several galleries that exhibit only one or two paintings belonging to the specific fin-de-siècle era of our preferences. I didn’t want to keep those from you, so here they are:

Looking at the smile on the child’s sleeping face, I love the ‘Midnight Circus’ by Felix Schwormstädt (1870-1938). But my absolute favourite from this selection is, how could it be another one, ‘Jardin Japonais’ by Maurice Leloir (1853-1940). I find the painting totally charming. And the frame too! Can you hear those Japanese ladies chatter and the crickets chirp?

So what are you waiting for? You can visit the BRAFA between 21 – 29 January 2017. And afterwards, will you let me know which object was your absolute favourite piece of art?

BRAFA, Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86c, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Read more:
Art Nouveau Jewellery
Blog about the BRAFA 2016
BRAFA 2017 – the Art Fair to look forward to!
BRAFA Art Fair
Galerie Cento Anni
Chambre Professionnelle Belge de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (CLAM)
Epoque Fine Jewels
Gallery Alexis Bordes
Gallery Ary Jan
Janssens van der Maelen
King Baudouin Foundation
Lancz Gallery
Galerie Oscar de Vos
Tour & Taxis
Univers du Bronze