Guardi's Venice masterpiece makes $16.9m at Christie's Old Masters

A view of Venice by Francesco Guardi (1712-1793), considered one of his finest masterpieces, topped Christie's Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale in London last night (July 8).

Francesco Guardi masterpiece
While Canaletto focused on precise views of Venica, Guardi captured its atmosphere and romance

The painting, entitled Venice, the Bacino di San Marco with the Piazetta and the Doge's Palace, hails from the esteemed collection of Baron Henri de Rothschild. Estimated at £8m-10m, it sold for £9.8m ($16.9m).

Guardi is considered one of the finest of all painters of Venice, following in the footsteps of Canaletto. Yet while Canaletto completed astonishingly precise depictions of the city's famous architecture, Guardi's work is known for the atmosphere he injected into each piece.

This work dates to the height of his maturity as an artist. However, despite Guardi being part of a noble family, very little is known about his life except the extraordinary oeuvre he left behind.

Vermeer Saint Praxedis
Saint Praxedis is based on a composition by Florentine Felice Ficherelli

The other impressive highlight of the sale of Saint Praxedis, one of just two works in private hands by Johannes Vermeer, which sold for £6.2m ($10.6m).

The work, one of the earliest from Vermeer known, has only recently been attributed to the great Dutch artist. The lead white paint was matched with another Vermeer work, with the attribution endorsed by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

A new world record was set for the work of Willem Claeszoon Heda, a Dutch Golden Age artist, at £4.8m ($8.2m), while The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew saw a new record for Luca Girodano  at £962,500 ($1.6m).

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