Published: July 14, 2017
LONDON — Francesco Guardi’s (1712–1793) “The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi” led Christie’s evening sale of Old Masters on July 7. It was knocked down at $29.9 million following a competition between two phone bidders.
Depicting the famous location on the Grand Canal looking south toward the bridge, and coming to auction with impeccable provenance from the Guinness family, it was expected to fetch in excess of $30 million.
The price was slightly shy of the sum made by the work’s pendant, “View of the Rialto Bridge, from the Fondamenta del Carbon,” which took $30.5 million at Sotheby’s in July 2011 — the latter still holding the record for Guardi, as well as the saleroom high for any Venetian painting at auction.
The 3-feet-11-inches-by-6-feet-9-inches oil on canvas was painted in the mid-1760s at the height of the artist’s career. Along with its pair (which showed the Rialto but looking north), it was acquired in 1768 by Chaloner Arcedeckne (circa 1743–1804) during his Grand Tour.
The pair then passed by descent until 1891 when the works were sold privately via Christie’s to Sir Edward Cecil Guinness (1847–1927). The Guinness family were also the sellers of the pendant at Sotheby’s six years ago.
Elsewhere in the sale, a portrait of a bearded old man, which was attributed to Rembrandt (1606–1669), had an estimate on request but drew competition between a phone bidder and London dealer Johnny Van Haeften. It was sold to the former at $2.25 million.
The Christie’s catalog included an lengthy assessment of the technical attributes of the work and stated that the “pigments used across the picture are entirely consistent with those found in Rembrandt’s studied oeuvre.”
The sale overall generated a $56.5 million total, including premium, with 36 of the 48 lots, or 75 percent, selling on the night.
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