The Old Masters market is in rude health. And the next big event in the area comes in July, when Christie’s will auction a painting by Bernardo Bellotto at its next sale dedicated to the Renaissance masters. This painting, which has remained in private hands for half a century, could set a new sales record for the Italian painter.
“View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi" is attributed to Bernardo Bellotto as an early work, believed to have been completed between 1745 and 1747. According to Christie’s, this painting helped establish the Italian artist’s reputation in landscape painting. “Painted on an epic scale, View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi marks a highpoint in the career of Bernardo Bellotto. It is a picture that defined his artistic vision and shaped the extraordinary pan-European success he enjoyed as a topographical view painter," explained Henry Pettifer, Head of Old Masters, Christie’s London.
After spending 50 years in the same private collection, “View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi" will be auctioned on July 8 during Christie’s “Old Masters" sale. It could fetch between 12 million and 18 million pounds (between 17 million and 25 million US dollars), and could possibly set a new sales record for Bernardo Bellotto. The painting’s price would eclipse the $12.7 million achieved by “Rome - The Forum with the Temple of Castor and Pollux" in 2006 in the London rooms of François Pinault’s auction house.
The prestigious provenance of “View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi" could also help to drive up the bidding. This painting by Bernardo Bellotto last appeared on the market in 1971, when it was acquired by its current owner for 300,000 pounds.
The appearance of this Bernardo Bellotto painting on the market attests to the enthusiasm of collectors, and museums, for the masterpieces of the great Renaissance masters. Christie’s had already witnessed this appetite at its previous “Old Masters" sale, which took place at the end of April in New York. That sale brought in $18 million for the auction house, thanks to paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Artemisia Gentileschi. “It’s encouraging to see that there is an appetite for Old Masters," Jonquil O’Reilly, Old Masters specialist at Christie’s New York, told Artnews at the time.