Monet visited Venice only once, arriving in October 1908 and declaring the canalled city “too beautiful to paint”.
He did, however, paint around 40 works during his three-month stay and they now form a relatively small group of pictures in the artist’s oeuvre – certainly much smaller than the 250 works in his later waterlilies series.
While the majority of Monet’s Venice scenes are now in museums, it has just been announced that one has come to the market and will appear at auction for the first time since it was painted.
Le Palais Ducal will be offered at Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and Modern art in London on February 26. It has been given a £20m-30m estimate – a level in line with the £21m fetched by another view of the Grand Canal sold in the same rooms in February 2015. The auctioneers confirmed that the work is guaranteed to sell as it is subject to an ‘irrevocable bid’ from a third party.
The view of the Gothic façade of the Doge’s palace is one of three works painted from a boat moored along the canal. Another from the group is now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum in New York and both works appeared alongside each other last year in the National Gallery in London’s acclaimed Monet and Architecture show – the first time Le Palais Ducal had appeared in public in almost 40 years.
Fresh to market
Le Palais Ducal has been in the same family since 1925, when it was acquired by Erich Goeritz, a Berlin-based textile manufacturer who built a famous collection of Impressionist and Modern art.
His purchases included Édouard Manet’s Un bar aux Folies-Bergère, now the star attraction in London’s Courtauld Insitute of Art, and works from his collection were later donated to range of museums such as the British Museum, the Tate and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Sotheby’s worldwide head of Impressionist and Modern art Helena Newman said: “This spellbinding painting is a true masterpiece and among the very greatest Monet painted during his first and only encounter with Venice. Having remained in the same family collection since 1925, it presents a rare opportunity for collectors from all over the world to acquire a painting of this quality that is completely fresh to the market.”
An auction record for Monet was set last year when Christie’s sold Nymphéas en fleur from c.1914-17 for $84.7m (£62.4m) including premium as part of its sale of the celebrated Rockefeller collection.