De Jonckheere is one of 26 leading Old Master galleries exhibiting this year at Paris Tableau. We spoke to Georges de Jonckheere in advance of the fair, about the business, his own artistic tastes, and the state of the market.
Tell us a bit about the history of your business…
We will be soon celebrating our 40th anniversary! The gallery was founded in 1976 in Brussels. Our Paris gallery opened in 1984 at 100 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, just a stone’s throw from the Elysée Palace. More recently, in 2010, we opened a gallery in Geneva, Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, in the heart of an area entirely dedicated to the arts. Making the most of this new space, with its sober and contemporary design, we decided to display our archives and our library, composed of more than 10,000 works, in addition to paintings.
What are your specialist fields?
We specialise in Dutch and Flemish Old Master paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. Since 2012, we have exhibited Old Masters alongside modern artists such as Fontana, Calder, Magritte. This sort of presentation stimulates people’s curiosity!
What’s the most exciting work you’re currently offering?
Probably this work by Teniers, one of his masterpieces. Or this stunning Virgin and Child from the Master of the Embroidered foliage.
What’s been your greatest triumph as a dealer?
Without contest, the fidelity of our clients.
And your greatest professional regret?
The paintings we couldn’t purchase, but fortunately they are less numerous than the ones we were able to get.
How has the market in your field changed since you started dealing?
I think the market has become more professional; a lot of experts and historians have gone to great efforts to study and understand paintings and their artists. Connoisseurship and scholarship has reached an extremely high level.
Do you collect yourself? And in the same field as you deal?
Of course, how could you spend a life dedicated to art without collecting? When I was young, I met this Belgian dealer, Arthur De Heuvel, who sold the most exciting works to collectors and museums. I was surprised and sorry to observe he didn’t have anything himself. I would rather keep a work than sell it.
Which work have you been sorriest to part with?
A lot of them!
If you weren’t an art dealer, what would you be?
Probably nothing else.