£28 million smashes Guardi record at London auction

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A monumental Francesco Guardi painting of Venice's Rialto Bridge on Wednesday sold in London for almost £27 million, the highest amount ever paid at auction for a work by the Italian artist.

After a determined battle between two bidders, "Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon" eventually went under the hammer for £26,697,250 ($42.8 million, 29.8 million euros).

The 1.15 by 2 metre painting, believed to be have been executed in the late 1760s, also set a record for the highest price paid for a Venetian view painting.

Guardi completed the work during "the pinnacle of the artist's output as a painter of vedute," and it represents the "first and fullest expression of the artist's mature style," said the Sotheby's auction house.

The Italian was widely regarded as the most serious rival to Canaletto within the Venetian school and was recognised as a master of vedute, large-scale works of cityscapes and other grand vistas.

The eye-watering price tag was the highest paid for any work of art at an international auction house this year and the second highest paid for any old master painting.

The previous auction record for a Guardi view painting was £9,889,937, realized in Monaco in 1989.

© 2011 AFP

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