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Sotheby's Achieves Second Highest Price for Any Old Master Painting at Auction in London
Sotheby's employee Maria Sheremeteva studies Francesco Guardi's Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge before it was sold at auction. AP Photo/Joel Ryan.

LONDON.- Tonight Sotheby’s London Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale was led by Francesco Guardi’s monumental masterpiece Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon, which established the highest price of the week of London Old Master Sales when it sold for an astonishing £26,697,250/$42,865,105/ €29,834,146 (est. £15-25 million*). Achieving a record as the 2nd highest price for any Old Master Painting sold at auction, a record for any Venetian view painting at auction**, as well as a record for the artist’s work***, the painting was sought after by two determined bidders and finally sold to an anonymous telephone bidder. Overall the sale achieved a total of £47,640,900/$76,492,229/ €53,238,651 (pre-sale est. £31,110,000-48,120,000), with an average lot value for the works sold of £952,818 million. The sale was 68.5% sold by lot and 91.6% sold by value.

Commenting on the sale, Alex Bell, Sotheby’s Co-Chairman, Old Master Paintings, Worldwide, said: “This evening’s auction provided collectors with a unique opportunity to acquire one of Francesco Guardi’s greatest masterpieces. The price established tonight sets a new auction benchmark – not just for the artist but for any view painting and indeed is the second-highest price ever paid at auction for an Old Master painting.”

Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon
Francesco Guardi’s monumental Venetian view painting, measuring 115 by 199.5cm, is one of four works that the artist painted on this grand scale. All executed at around the same time in the late 1760s, together they constitute the pinnacle of the artist’s output as a painter of vedute and are generally considered to be Guardi’s greatest works – the first and fullest expression of the artist’s mature style. While one of the four paintings on this scale was destroyed in a fire in the mid-20th century, this painting and its pendant have remained together until very recently.

Seven further artist records achieved tonight for:
An exceptionally rare Hans Schäufelein double-sided, tempera and oil altarpiece panel, The Dormition of the Virgin, realised £2,729,250/$4,382,084/¤3,049,934, far exceeding its high estimate (est. £1.5-2 million).

Madonna and child with the infant Saint John the Baptist by Antonio Allegri, better known as Correggio sold for £3,625,250 /$5,820,701/€4,051,213 (est. £2-3 million

John de Critz the Elder’s oil on panel Portrait of James I realised £199,250/$319,916/¤222,662 (est. £80,000-120,000).

Jacob Knyff’s Charles II and James, Duke of York, on board H.M.S. Triumph, with three royal yachts off Dover fetched £169,250/$271,748/¤189,137 (est. £100,000-150,000).

Francesco de Michele’s Triptych: Central panel: Saint Gregory the Great: left wing: Saint Catherine of Alexandria: right wing: Saint Jerome realised£241,250/$387,351/¤269,597 (est. £200,000-£300,000).

Vittore Ghislandi, called Fra Galgario, Portrait of a young man in a green tunic sold for £325,250/$387,351/¤269,597 (est. £60,000-80,000).

Anthonie Verstraelen’s A winter landscape with figures skating on a frozen river beside a village raised £481,250/$772,695/¤537,796 (est. £150,000-200,000).

Other notable prices this evening:
Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Carmelite monk, head and shoulders, sold for £713,250/$1,145,194/€797,056 (est. £600,000-800,000). The intense and psychologically penetrating portrait is a hitherto unknown work, which Sotheby’s has discovered to have been painted by the youthful Van Dyck during the years he worked in Rubens’ studio.

Also by Van Dyck, A Bearded Man with Hands Raised sold for£457,250/$734,161/€510,976 (est. £200,000-300,000). An important oil study Van Dyck also executed while working in Rubens’ studio, the painting’s distinctive model helped Sotheby’s confirm the attribution to the great Flemish master.

Portrait of a Bearded Gentleman, In a Black Beret with white plumage by Corneille de Lyon, sold for £385,250/$618,557/€430,516 (est. £150,000-200,000). This striking portrait, which has remained in the same family’s collection for nearly two hundred years, is as notable for the immediacy of the execution as much as for its exceptional state of preservation.

British Paintings
John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral From Then Meadows sold for £657,250/$1,055,281/€734,476 (est. £500,000-700,000). This recently re-discovered view of Salisbury Cathedral in a storm offers a revealing insight into the inner (emotional) turmoil and personal anguish that this most complex artist was experiencing and attempting to come to terms with towards the latter part of his life.

Sale statistics:
• Sold by lot: 68.5%
• Sold by value: 91.6%
• Of the 73 lots offered, 50 sold
• Average lot value: £952,818

* Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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