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Guardi Venice Scene May Fetch 20 Million Pounds at Sotheby’s

Guardi Painting
"Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon," by Francesco Guardi, included in Sotheby's July 6 auction of Old Master paintings in London. Dating from the late 1760s, the 78-inch-wide (1.98 meter) canvas had never been offered at auction before and fetched 26.7 million pounds ($42.7 million) with fees. Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

A view of the Grand Canal by the Venetian painter Francesco Guardi, estimated at 20 million pounds ($32 million), will be one of the highlights of London’s Old Master auctions in July.

“Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge from the Fondamenta del Carbon,” was one of four large-scale canvases that Guardi painted in the late 1760s. Never seen at auction before, it will be offered by Sotheby’s on July 6.

“It’s as good a Guardi as is likely to turn up,” the London-based dealer and scholar Charles Beddington said in an interview.

“It’s the best painting by the artist that has been seen at auction since 1989,” said Beddington, who curated the exhibition “Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals,” which opened this week at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

The action-packed, 78-inch-wide (1.98 meter) Guardi work is one of a pair that was bought in Venice by the English “Grand Tourist” Chaloner Arcedeckne in 1768. They were acquired by the Guinness family in 1891 and passed by inheritance to the Conservative politician Paul Channon, who died in 2007. The Sotheby’s painting is being sold by his heirs, said dealers with knowledge of the matter. Its companion is included in the catalog of the Washington show.

Another painting from the group was sold by Sotheby’s for 94.35 million French francs ($15.9 million) in Monaco in 1989, the auction house said. At the time, that was the second-highest auction price paid for an Old Master painting and it remains a record for Guardi.

“Guardi often comes up when people who don’t normally collect Old Masters name the artists they’d like to own,” Alex Bell, Sotheby’s international head of Old Master paintings, said in an interview. “This is a grand and atmospheric painting, and the scene is highly recognizable. This is the sort of work that could appeal to a variety of buyers.”

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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