On July 6, 2011, Sothebys
London will sell one of the greatest masterpieces of Venetian view painting ever executed. Estimated in the region of £20 million* (US$30 million), Francesco Guardis Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon is monumental in scale. 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, which together constitute the pinnacle of Guardis output as a painter of vedute and which are generally considered to be Guardis greatest works the first and fullest expression of the artists 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. The last in the group1 was sold by Sothebys in 1989 for almost £10 million then the second highest price ever achieved at auction for an Old Master Painting and still the record price for the artist.
Alex Bell, International Head of Sothebys Old Master Paintings Department, said: This dramatic, atmospheric evocation of 18th-century Venice is impressive not only for its scale, but also for its extraordinary pictorial qualities its impressionistic handling and virtuoso brushwork as well as for its exceptional provenance, having been in only two family collections since it was painted. As we have seen on so many occasions, when works of this quality and rarity come to the market, the opportunity they represent often proves irresistible to collectors.
The painting has been sold just once since it was first acquired in Venice in 1768 by the English Grand Tourist, Chaloner Arcedeckne. It remained in Arcedecknes family until 1891, when it was sold to Sir Edward Guinness, 1st Bt., later 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847-1927). It has since passed by inheritance through the same family.
Throughout its existence, the painting has almost always hung in private. With the exception of a short period recently, when it was on loan to the Iveagh Bequest at Kenwood House in London, its last public showing was in the great 1955 exhibition at the Royal Academy, European Masters from the 18th Century.
*Estimates do not include buyers premium