Monet Venice Painting Could Top $45 Million at London Sale

This morning (January 8) Sotheby’s announced a blockbuster consignment for its evening sale of Impressionist and modern art in London on February 3. Claude Monet’s Le Grand Canal (1908), which has been on loan to the National Gallery for the past eight years, is set to hit the auction block with an estimate of $30.6–$45.9 million (£20–30 million). The consignor is not identified but the work is listed as coming from a “private collection.”

Given the attention from this morning’s New York Times story, the painting is the subject of a Sotheby’s direct guarantee, as well as a third-party guarantee, known as an “irrevocable bid” in which a bidder outside of Sotheby’s assumes risk in return for sharing in any potential upside if the lot performs well (see: “New Wave of Auction Guarantees Hastens Market Bubble“).

The work was painted during a three-month trip Monet took to Venice in 1908—the year of one of the first biennales in the sinking city—and executed during a period widely considered the peak of his career. According to Sotheby’s, it was on December 19, 1908, a few days after the artist returned to Paris, that gallery Bernheim-Jeune acquired 28 of his 37 paintings depicting views of Venice, though Monet kept the pictures in his studio in order to put on final touches. Three years later, in 1911, Monet agreed on a date for an exhibition of the works, and the show, “Claude Monet Venise,” was held the following summer.

A year later, Le Grand Canal was acquired by a New Orleans sugar magnate named Hunt Henderson, who was considered one of the most important collectors of the American South in the early 20th century.

Helena Newman, co-head of Impressionist and modern art worldwide, noted that the market for Monet “has now reached an all-time point of strength, with bidders coming from four times as many countries as a decade ago.” The painting is currently in Asia. It was on view in Taipei yesterday (January 7) and will be in Hong Kong from January 9–12. It will be in New York from January 21 to 23 and then return to London right before the sale.

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