On the nomadic art fair circuit, The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which takes place in Maastricht, The Netherlands, stands proud above its flashier, more social contemporaries (indeed, the latter tend to focus on contemporary art, whereas TEFAF deals mostly in traditional art and antiques, as well as modern art, design and other genres.). It even looks different, with elegantly designed stands and boulevard-wide halls lined with banks of flowers. But it is the sheer quality of the art on display that sets TEFAF apart. The selection of objects is comparable only to a museum collection. It is no surprise, therefore, that this is where not only the world’s leading collectors to come to purchase (Maastricht’s local airport fills with private jets during the opening days) but also where museum directors come fill holes in their institutions’ collections.

Opening on March 17 for a VIP preview (the public are welcomed from March 18-27)
the highlights up for grabs this year include an important Henry Moore sculpture, Mother and Child Block Seat, from Landau Fine Art of Montreal (price on request); Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s painting of his son Claude, offered by Hammer Galleries of New York for £125,000; and an extremely rare Greek idol that was made over 7000 years ago and is for sale at €1million at the stand of London’s Rupert Wace Ancient Art. In the design section of the fair, the highlights include two 17th century German altarpieces crafted from amber, which are offered by Kunstkammer Georg Laue from Munich at a price of €500,000.

What makes TEFAF special is its unique combination of traditional art and antiques with modern art and design. Just as auction houses have noticed a new breed of cross over buyer who previously only collected contemporary or modern art, so too has TEFAF. It is this type of connoisseur collector, who find the prices of antiquities a bargain in comparison to blue-chip living artists, that TEFAF appeals to in particular – the type of buyer who might be in the market for both a Mondrian and a piece of Cycladic art. With over 30,000 artworks on offer, TEFAF 2011 is the ultimate art and antiquities mall.