Christie’s to Auction $17 M. Bellotto Landscape Poised to Break Record

As the market for Old Master paintings continues to prove fertile, Christie’s will auction a potentially record-breaking landscape by Italian artist Bernardo Bellotto during it’s July 8 evening sale in London dedicated to the category. The 18th-century painting, View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi (ca. 1745-47) depicts a view of a canal in the Italian city. Coming to auction after 50 years in private hands and secured with a guarantee, it is expected to fetch a price of £14 million–£18 million ($17 million–$25 million).

Measuring at [cut “at’] more than 5-by-7 feet [delete hyphens], the work was purchased by its current owner in 1971 at Christie’s for £300,000 [add dollar amount in parens]. Since 1973, it has been on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. [This is a perpetual nightmare. The institution called “the National Galleries (plural) of Scotland” encompasses at least two museums, one of which is the “Scottish National Gallery.”]

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“It is a picture that defined [Bellotto’s] artistic vision and shaped the extraordinary pan-European success he enjoyed as a topographical view painter,” Henry Pettifer, Christie’s London head of Old Masters, said in a statement. “It remains one of very last monumental canvases by the artist still in private hands.”

The painting carries a formidable provenance record [cut “record”] dating back to 1771, having [Sub: “1771. It] passed through the hands of members of the British noble Viscount Clifden family and a high ranking British military official before its last sale in 1971. If it reaches its low estimate, the work is poised to bring a new record for the artist. Bellotto’s current auction record is $12.7 million, set when Rome – The Forum with the Temple of Castor and Pollux (ca. 18th century) sold at Christie’s London in 2006.

The Bellotto will be sold alongside a portrait of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford. Painted around 1639-40 by Anthony Van Dyck, the latter work, which was once in the collection of King Charles I of England, is estimated at £3 million–£5 million ($4.2 million–$7 million). [I made some tweaks in this last paragraph.]


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