Pair of Canaletto paintings reach $4.1m in New York

A pair of canal paintings by the great Venetian view painter Canaletto (1697-1768) headlined an evening sale of old master paintings at Sotheby’s New York last night.

One shows the churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo, while the other depicts the Bridge of Sighs.

 Canaletto painting Sothebys

Wealthy travellers paid out fortunes for Canaletto's work 

They sold as a single lot for $4.1m.

Canaletto is regarded as the most accomplished of the Ventian view painters, acclaimed for his skill in capturing the city’s unique architecture.

During the 1700s, European noblemen (Brits in particular) would undertake a Grand Tour of the continent that usually finished in Rome.

These weren’t your average sunburned rosbifs.

The trip required a huge personal fortune to bankroll.

Canaletto was one of a number of artists to made a killing on paintings commissioned by these well-heeled travellers.

He was particularly successful thanks to the patronage of British consul Joseph Smith, who served as his agent.

Today his name remains a mark of quality.

His auction record is £18.6m ($29.4m), set for View of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi to the Rialto at Sotheby's London in 2005.

Meanwhile, Velazquez’s Portrait of Cristoforo Segni, assistant to Pope Innocent X, achieved its $4m top estimate.

Velazquez (1599-1660) painted the work while in Rome circa 1650. This was the same year he painted his iconic portrait of Pope Innocent X.

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