Previously unknown to scholars, this exceptional pen and ink drawing by Canaletto (1697-1768) set an auction record for a work on paper by the artist at the latest series of Old Master sales in London.
It was the cover lot of
Sotheby's drawings sale on July 4 where it drew six bidders
against a £300,00-500,000 estimate before selling to a European
private buyer at £1.7m.
Campo di San Giacomo di Rialto was a rare 10 x 141/2in
(25 x 37cm) drawing of a real Venetian scene - not an idealised
view - and depicted the historic centre of the city's banking
industry. Two paintings and a further drawing of the same view are
also known, all held in public collections.
Produced with brown ink and chalk over a grey wash, it
demonstrated the artist's masterly technique, acute observation and
subtle handling of light. It had come to auction after Sotheby's
received an unsolicited phone call from a vendor who was unaware of
its value and whose family had owned it for around 100 years.
The price easily outstripped the previous record for a drawing
by the artist which had been held for over 25 years - the $715,000
(£493,103) seen for view of Warwick Castle sold in New York in