Published On: Thu, Jul 10th, 2014

Baron Henri de Rothschild Collection Sells Francesco Guardi Painting Of Venice For $17 Million At Christie’s

Francesco Guardi Painting Of Venice Sells For $17 Million At Christie’s London Auction
On Tuesday evening, the art auction of Old Master and British paintings at Christie’s in London achieved total sales of over US$77 million. Whilst the results may not be as good as for some of this year’s auctions of both modern and post war works, at either Christie’s or Sotheby’s, it is still a fair chunk of change.
The top price for the evening was achieved by a fairly small painting of the St. Marks Basin in Venice by Francesco Guardi, not surprisingly entitled the “Bacino di San Marco, ” which sold for almost US$17 million.  The fairly small,  seventy centimetres by approximately one metre, painting sold at near the top end of its estimated range and achieved the second highest price ever obtained for a Guardi painting at auction.The painting is a masterpiece that comes from the Baron Henri de Rothschild Collection, one of the most substantial of European art collections. The late eighteenth century work was purchased originally by the Earl of Shaftesbury and then passed down through his family by inheritance, before being acquired by the Rothschild family sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Christie’s catalogue author for the sale lauds Guardi’s sumptuous and sensual vision of Venice that comes to us through his paintings. He then compares and contrasts Guardi’s essentially romantic paintings with both Canaletto’s precise architectural presentations of the buildings of Venice, and Tiepolo’s witty representations of its people of every social class.

As the catalogue’s author instead puts it, it is “in Guardi’s paintings that we feel the heavy air and velvety atmosphere of the city, marvel at its shimmering blue skies and waters, flecked with sunlight splashing around its gondolas, admire the epic lagoon vistas and tiny, picturesque alleyways that are the subjects of his finest canvases. It is Guardi’s views, above all others, that sparkle with the vivid, vital, transitory life of the city in a way that both his contemporaries and posterity recognise as authentic.”

If this small painting can really do all that, then it may well be worth every penny of its US$17 million price to its purchaser.


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