Sotheby’s press statement on the sale:
Sotheby’s London set an auction record for any Venetian view painting – as well as for a work by Francesco Guardi with the sale of Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon, which realised £26,697,250/ $42,865,105 (est. £15-25 million). The painting was contested by two determined bidders.
Francesco Guardi’s Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon is monumental in scale. Measuring 115 by 199.5cm (45¼ by 78½ in.), it is one of four works that Guardi painted on this grand scale, all executed at around the same time in the late 1760s, which together constitute the pinnacle of the artist’s output as a painter of vedute and which are generally considered to be Guardi’s greatest works – the first and fullest expression of the artist’s mature style.
While one of the four paintings on this scale was destroyed in a fire in the mid-20th century, this painting and its pendant have remained together until very recently. The last in the group was sold by Sotheby’s in 1989 for almost £10 million – then the second highest price ever achieved at auction for an Old Master Painting and still the record price for the artist.