Francesco Guardi’s The Rialto Bridge €49,943,158


The Old Masters Evening Sale – Christie’s – on 6 July totalled £43,848,250 / $56,695,788 / €49,943,158 and was led by Francesco Guardi’s The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, which realised £26,205,000 / $33,883,065 / €29,847,496. The sale marks the highest price achieved for an Old Master painting this year across all houses and continues the success of last year’s record-breaking sales. This magnificent picture is one of the celebrated pair of views of the Grand Canal at the Rialto, which are widely regarded as the most accomplished works of Guardi’s early maturity. Ambitious in scale and startlingly innovative both in design and pictorial mood, this work stands among the masterpieces of eighteenth-century European art. The picture is prominently signed and exceptionally well preserved, having been offered for sale only once in its history. The evening sale achieved 75% by lot and 78% by value and saw registered bidders from 23 countries, across 4 continents.


Henry Pettifer, Head of Christie’s Old Master Paintings EMERI: “’The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi’ by Francesco Guardi is the most expensive Old Master painting since the sale of Rubens’s ‘Lot and his Daughters’ this time last year. It continues the momentum in the Old Masters field at Christie’s and proves once again the global appetite for the very best works of art.”


Further highlights of the sale included The Minuet by Giandomenico Tiepolo, which realised £3,077,000 / $3,978,561 / €3,504,703, and An Old Bearded Man, attributed to Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, which sold for £2,105,000 / $2,721,765 / €2,397,595.

Five artists records were set during the Old Masters Evening Sale: David Rijckaert II’s oil on panel, A stoneware ewer, a Berkemeyer and a conical glass in a bekerschroef, with confectionary in a silver platter, on a ledge, selling for £557,000 / $720,201 / €634,423, A triptych by The Master of the Antwerp Adoration achieved £965,000 / $1,247,745 / €1,099,135, more than doubling the previous record.

The extraordinary collection of Tuscan Renaissance cassoni panels saw artist records set for Liberale da Verona’s Tobias and the Angel, which achieved £317,000 / $409,881 / €361,063  and Pellegrino di Mariano Rossini The Story of Mars and Venus, which sold for £81,250 / $105,056 / €92,544. A little later in the sale, The Holy Family by Alessandro Rosi achieved £233,000 / $301,269 / €265,387, easily passing the previous world auction record for the artist.

In the Old Master & British Drawings & Watercolours sale on 5 July, eight records were set for Timoteo Viti, Jusepe de Ribera, Carlo Maratti, Luigi Sabatelli, Adriaen van der Werff, Hendrik Gerrit ten Cate, George Romney and Samuel Frederick Brocas.


The Exceptional Sale, preceding the Old Masters Evening Sale on 6 July, presented collectors with the opportunity to acquire masterpieces of sculpture, European furniture and decorative arts, many with celebrated provenance. The sale totalled: £11,589,500 / $14,985,224 / €13,200,441 and was highlighted by a magnificent carved marble group of two addorsed lions by André Beauneveu, dating from 1364–66, which achieved £9,349,000 / $12,088,257 / €10,648,511, a world auction record for any medieval work of art sold at auction and an artist record for André Beauneveu. The Maria Fitzherbert Jewel, a diamond-glazed locket depicting George IV, realised an artist record for a portrait miniature by Richard Cosway when it sold for £341,000 / $440,913 / €388,399, almost triple its high estimate.


Classic Week opened with European Furniture & Works of Art, which totalled £2,679,750 / $3,470,276 / €3,046,876. The top lot was a pair of mid-18th century North Italian gilt-metal and rock-crystal eight-light chandeliers, which sold for £185,000 / $239,575 / €210,345, more than twice the high estimate.

Strong sell through-rates demonstrate a high demand for classic collecting categories including the Antiquities sale, which realised £4,613,750 / $5,956,351 / €5,236,606 and sold 98% by value and 92% by lot. The top price in the sale was achieved for an Egyptian granite head of Sekhmet, circa 1388-1351 BC, which sold for £605,000 / $781,055 / €686,675, more than four times its high estimate. Online bidders have played an important part in Classic Week. This was particularly evident in the Antiquities sale which saw over 40% of the works being bid for by online buyers. The Old Master Drawings & Watercolours sale sold 83% by value and totalled £4,962,625 / $6,406,749 / €5,632,579, led by J.M.W. Turner’s wonderful watercolour, Norham Castle: Sunrise, which realised £581,000 / $750,071 / €659,435.


Christie’s Classic Week offers an international platform for the very best in classical art and has witnessed participation of public institutions in acquiring:

5 July | Antiquities Sale – A ceremonial bronze The Ommerschans Hoardcirca 1500-1350 (estimate: £80,000-£120,000), sold for £485,000 / $626,135 / €550,475, to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, Netherlands.

5 July | Old Master & British Drawings & Watercolours – Portrait of the princes Camillo and Francesco Borghese as young boys (estimate: £20,000 – 30,000) by Giuseppe Cades was purchased for £56,250 / $72,618 / €63,843 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5 July | Old Master & British Drawings & Watercolours – A view of Amersfoort by Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli (estimate: £150,000-250,000), was bought for £185,000 / $238,835 / €209,975 by the Museum Flehite, Amersfoort with the support of Vereniging Rembrandt.

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