Francesco Guardi’s light-filled view of Venice, a painting being offered for the first time in more than a century, may fetch as much as $16.7 million at Christie’s in London in July.
“Venice, the Bacino di San Marco With the Piazzetta and the Doge’s Palace” depicts one of the city’s most famous views across a lagoon studded with gondolas and bathed in the morning light. Estimated by the auction house at 8 million to 10 million pounds ($13.3 million to $16.7 million), the work will be offered on July 8, Christie’s said today in a statement.
Painted in the early 1780s, the piece is more than 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide and hasn’t been seen in public since 1954, according to Christie’s. The original owners were the Earls of Shaftesbury. In mid-19th century, the work entered the collection of Baron James-Edouard de Rothschild (1844-1881), passing by descent to the present owners.
“The scale, the beautiful condition and the fact that it only belonged to two families are impressive,” Georgina Wilsenach, head of Old Master and British paintings at Christie’s London, said in a telephone interview.
Guardi (1712-1793) began painting the view from across the lagoon in the 1750s and returned to it as various patrons traveling on the Grand Tour requested it. Similar works are in collections including those of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“He was asked on several occasions to make this painting because it’s such an impressive view,” Wilsenach said.
Christie’s is sending the painting on a marketing tour in the coming months, including stops in Moscow, New York and Hong Kong.
Wealthy Russian buyers have been fueling Old Master sales at Christie’s in recent seasons, Wilsenach said. Chinese buyers are becoming interested in Old Master auctions as well, she said.
“They tend to want the best things,” Wilsenach said. “So if you have something truly great, it’s worth showing it to people.”
Guardi’s auction record of $42.7 million was established in 2011 at Sotheby’s in London for the view of Venice’s Rialto Bridge, according to Artnet Worldwide Corp.’s price database.
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