Bernardo Bellotto (1721-1780), View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, circa 1745-47. Estimate £12,000,000-18,000,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021
Bernardo Bellotto painted View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi in circa 1745-47, when the artist was still in his mid-twenties. This work is the supreme masterpiece from the artist’s early career, along with its’ pair – Verona from the Ponte Nuova looking upstream with the Castel San Pietro (Powis Castle, the National Trust).
The prodigiously talented nephew of Canaletto, Bellotto is celebrated as one of the greatest topographical view painters, instrumental in the development of the genre across Europe in the eighteenth century. This painting showcases his extraordinary talent for accurately rendering topographical details, for capturing the atmospheric light of a scene - as the sun highlights different aspects of the buildings, reflects off the water and casts a dramatic shadow across the foreground - as well as his skill at depicting narrative detail. The magnificent scale of this painting was unprecedented in Bellotto’s work and it set the course of his subsequent development at the courts of Dresden, Vienna and Munich.
The painting has a distinguished British provenance dating back to 1771. It last appeared at auction at Christie’s in 1971, when it was acquired by the present owner and it has been on long term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh since 1973.
Henry Pettifer, Head of Old Masters, Christie’s London comments, ‘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. It remains one of very last monumental canvases by the artist still in private hands’.
Henry continues, ‘It will be a great honour to present this spectacular painting to the market, as the centrepiece to our forthcoming Old Masters sale on July 8th, exactly 50 years after it was last sold at Christie's in 1971.'