Ehrenbreitstein is one of five oils Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1835 and the last in private hands.
“Of those five paintings, it was Ehrenbreitstein that caught the imagination of the public and critics alike,” says Alex Bell, co-chairman of Sotheby’s. “Its true greatness lies in the way Turner applies his painterly genius to transform the ruins of a famous fortress into a poetic and symbolic image.”
Turner was first commissioned to produce the work for the publisher John Pye for single-plate engraving. The original painting was acquired by one of Turner’s patrons, Elhanan Bicknell, and since then it has appeared on the open market three times, latterly in 1965.
Christie’s equivalent Old Masters evening sale on July 6 will be led by Francesco Guardi’s The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi which is expected to fetch more than £25m.
Painted in the mid-1760s, at the height of the artist’s career, this monumental oil is one of the celebrated pair of views of the Grand Canal at the Rialto acquired in 1768 by Chaloner Arcedeckne (c.1743-1804) during his Grand Tour.
They passed by descent until 1891 when sold privately via Christie’s for £3850 to Sir Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927). The Guinness family sold its pendant, A View of the Rialto Bridge Looking North From the Fondamenta del Carbon, through Sotheby’s in 2011 for £26.7m.