Monday, December 1, 2014

Canaletto at Auction

Sotheby’s January 2015 Old Master Week

Sotheby’s January 2015 Old Master Week in New York will feature a select group of highly important paintings assembled by noted collector J.E. Safra.Among the wonderful Italian works to be offered from Mr. Safra’s collection is an exquisite example of views from Canaletto’s English period – London, A View of the Old Horse Guards and Banqueting Hall, Whitehall seen from St. James’ Park (est. $4/6 million). In May of 1746, Canaletto transferred his studio to London, perhaps in pursuit of fresh challenges. The outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1740 had discouraged English visitors from undertaking the Grand Tour, and these had made up the majority of Canaletto’s patrons. The painting is presumed to date to 1749, when the old, red brick Horse Guards had been condemned. This perhaps captured the imagination of the artist, compelling him to record the architecture in painted form for posterity.

Christie’s Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale London, 2 December 2014

Executed on Canaletto’s return from England to Venice after 1755, Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, on the Grand Canal, Venice is one of a group of views of individual palazzi that the artist painted around this date (estimate: £800,000-1.2 million). On a similarly small scale, the majority of these works are of English provenance, including that of Palazzo Grimani at the National Gallery, London. Less dependent on assistants during this phase of his career, Canaletto’s  touch became lighter and freer. The figures in this canvas, which are brilliantly rendered by controlled dots and dabs of paint, make one wonder if Canaletto had studied Vermeer’s Lady and Gentleman at the Virginals, then in the possession of Consul Joseph Smith, banker to the British community at Venice. Ca’ Vendramin-Calergi was one of the outstanding palaces of Renaissance Venice, and remains a notable landmark on the Grand Canal in the parish of San Marcuola. Exhibiting the artist’s sparkling technique, the smaller scale of this work was perhaps influenced by the demands of those who bought his pictures. This work comes to auction for the first time in almost 150 years, having last been exhibited just less than 40 years ago.

Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, Venice, the Piazza San Marco looking east towards the Basilica, Oil on canvas, 58.5 by 92 cm.; 23 by 36. in. (est. £5,000,000-7,000,000)

The other masterful Italian view in the sale is an exceptional Veduta by Canaletto, now to be shown in public for the first time since the ground-breaking Manchester Art Treasures exhibition back in 1857. From the beginning of the 1730s, the decade that would establish Canaletto as Venice’s greatest and most famous view painter, this picture depicts The Piazza San Marco on a typically sunny day. The number of variants of this scene painted by the artist throughout his career is evidence of the popularity that it enjoyed with 18th-century visitors to Venice. Other important variants are found in the Museo Thyssen in Madrid and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The present work enjoys a particularly distinguished English provenance and will be offered with an estimate of £5-7 million (lot 11, est. €6,340,000-8,880,000 / $8,050,000- 11,270,000).

Christie’s Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale in London on Tuesday 2 July 2014

A glittering view of Venice by Canaletto (1697-1768) painted at the height of his powers,

The Molo, Venice, from the Bacino di San Marco (estimate: £4-6 million).

Executed at the height of Canaletto’s (1697-1768) powers in the 1730s, The Molo, Venice, from the Bacino di San Marco is a beautifully preserved masterpiece from the artist’s famous sequence of views of the Molo from the Bacino, showing the greatest religious and secular monuments at the heart of Venice (estimate: £4-6 million). Bathed in a clear, luminous light, the celebrated buildings are meticulously described and are skillfully enlivened by the hustle and bustle of the boats and figures in the foreground. The observation of the figures is, as always with Canaletto, acute: the standing boatman in the large vessel on the far left is shown pulling back, straining his oar in an effort to avoid colliding with the smaller sandolo passing in front. This exceptional canvas – one of the largest of this type of composition – was supplied to Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk (1686-1777), who was a major British artistic patron of the day; it passed by descent in the family until the 1970s.

Sotheby's Dec 4, 2014

Venice, A View of the Piazza San Marco looking East towards the Basilica and the Campanile by Canaletto

offered as pair together with Venice, the Grand Canal looking from Palazzo Dolfin-Manin to the Rialto bridge, 

both oil on canvas, each 46.5 by 77.1 cm; 181⁄4 by 301⁄4 in. (est. £8-12 million)

Two supreme Venetian view paintings by Canaletto, the undisputed master in the genre, will lead Sotheby’s London sale of Old Master and British Paintings on 4 December 2013. Painted in 1738-39, at the apex of the artist’s career, these views of the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal and St. Mark's Square constitute two of the most important works by Canaletto to come to the market in recent times.

The centrepiece of the auction is a pair of supreme vedute by Giovanni Antonio Canal, commonly known as Canaletto (1697-1768), dating from the very apogee of the artist’s career and depicting the artist’s most celebrated Venetian subjects: the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal and St. Mark's Square. These two canvases are spectacular examples of a very interesting phase within Canaletto’s production when, between circa 1738 and 1742, the warm sunshine so characteristic of his early maturity gave way to a cool, clear light, bringing with it clarity and precision. The two works will be offered as a pair with an estimate of £8-12 million (lot 39, est. €9,300,000-13,940,000/ $12,440,000-18,660,000).  

Sotheby's January 2012



5,000,000 — 7,000,000

LOT SOLD. 5,682,500 

Sotheby's December 2010



2,000,000 — 3,000,000

LOT SOLD. 2,225,250 GBP 

Christie's 2008

The Grand Canal, Venice, looking north-west from the Ca' Corner to the Ca' Contarini degli Scrigni, with the campanile of Santa Maria della Carità