Offered at Sotheby’s on July 5, the well-preserved pen and brown ink study depicting the coronation of the doge at the Doge’s Palace (above) was knocked down at £2.2m to dealer Jean Luc Baroni.
The 15 x 12½in (38 by 55cm) work was one of a dozen depictions of Venice’s ceremonies and festivals that the artist made c.1735, and was the first to appear at auction in over 40 years.
Although it sold below its £2.5m-3.5m estimate, Sotheby’s worldwide head of Old Master drawings Greg Rubinstein said it was “by far the most important drawing by Canaletto to have come to the market in recent decades”.
The previous record for a Canaletto drawing was £1.9m for Campo San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice, which sold at Sotheby’s in July 2012
The £8.3m sale total, including premium, pushed Sotheby’s to its best sale since 2001, when Michelangelo’s Study of a Mourning Woman made £5.4m alone.
Meanwhile, Christie’s £4.01m drawings sale, also held on July 5, was led by JMW Turner’s (1775-1851) watercolour of Norham Castle at sunrise. It realised £390,000, below its punchy £500,000-800,000 guide.
The pick of the drawings at Bonhams was a recently discovered sketch by Il Parmigianino (1503-40). Depicting three studies of a nude female figure, the tiny 2 x 4in (6.5 x 10cm) red chalk drawing came to light in an album assembled in the 19th century containing drawings by a number of different hands.
A preparatory work, it relates to Parmigianino’s depiction of the Wise and Foolish Virgins on the vault of the church of Santa Maria della Steccata in his home town of Parma.
It was hammered down for £42,000 against an estimate of £15,000-20,000.