Views of Venice have long held special appeal in the Old Master market. They pass through our salerooms with great frequency and fetch high prices with equal consistency. But it is rare we handle a view that is judged by many to be one of the masterpieces of the genre, by one of its greatest exponents, Francesco Guardi. This picture, The Bacino di San Marco, with the Piazzetta and the Doge’s Palace, hit all the right notes: an iconic subject, an artist at the height of his powers, and a work with impeccable provenance.
It had been passed down through the Rothschild family since the late 19th century and is a sparkling example of the unique Rothschild taste that has defined their wide-ranging collections. It stood out as a shimmering, modern vision of the city; one of the great prospects of Venice interpreted with a freedom and ingenuity that singled out Guardi as the man who revolutionised the way we see la Serenissima.
As with any great masterpiece, it was a picture whose reach went beyond the Old Master field, one that could be celebrated and appreciated by collectors across all periods — and was sold for £9,882,500.