Francesco Guardi’s monumental painting, Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon made £26,697,250 ($44,362,820) at Sotheby’s Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale on July 6. Sotheby’s quickly claimed that this was the most expensive painting to be sold by an international auction house so far this year.
Measuring 115 by 199.5cm (45¼ by 78½ in.), it is one of four works that Guardi painted on this grand scale, all executed at around the same time in the late 1760s. According to Sotheby’s Alex Bell, the monumental work is one of Francesco Guardi’s greatest masterpieces. The sale, he added, had set a new auction benchmark, not just for the artist but for any view painting. The previous highest price for a Venetian view painting was set in 2005 when Canaletto’s Venice – The Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi sold for £18.6 million.
There were artist records for several other paintings. Hans Schäufelein double-sided, tempera and oil altarpiece panel, The Dormition of the Virgin, realised £2,729,250; Madonna and child with the infant Saint John the Baptist by Antonio Allegri, better known as Correggio made £3,625,250; Francesco de Michele Triptych: Central panel: Saint Gregory the Great: left wing: Saint Catherine of Alexandria: right wing: Saint Jerome made £241,250; Vittore Ghislandi called Fra G algario Portrait of a young man in a green tunic made £325,250; Anthonie Verstraelen A winter landscape with figures skating on a frozen river beside a village made £481,250; Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Carmelite monk, head and shoulders made £713,250 and A Bearded Man with Hands Raised by Van Dyck made £457,250.
A total of 50 of the 73 lots on offer found buyers in a sale that was sold 68.5% by lot and 91.6% by value. Overall the sale achieved a total of £47,640,900 ($76,492,229).