visited Venice once in 1908, producing a series of 37 paintings during his stay.
He never returned, but soon one of his paintings from that series, Le Grand Canal et Santa Maria della Salute, will be back in the Italian city before it is sold at Sotheby’s Modern Evening Auction on May 17 in New York.
The painting—an intensely colored depiction of the Basilica di Santa
Maria della Salute
that makes it seem to float on the canal—will be part of a one-day exhibit at the Gritti Palace as part of the Venice Biennale, according to Sotheby’s. Next month, it will be sold at auction for the first time and is expected to fetch around US$50 million.
“To get such a significant piece by Monet is a major event, regardless of subject, but this one of Venice is particularly special,” says
head of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s. “The vast majority of his Venice paintings are in museum collections…it’s an extreme rarity.”
The Venice Biennale provided a “special opportunity” to showcase Le Grand Canal in the city of its creation, Dawes says.
“What’s more fitting that to bring people into dialogue with the painting in person in Venice?”
Before it arrives in Venice, the work will tour Asia, making its first appearance in 25 years in Taipei, the auction company said. It will then be shown in Hong Kong, followed by its one-day exhibition in Venice and a stop in London on its way to New York.
“Seeing the painting in person is the only way to experience it,” Dawes says. “The intensity of the color, the electricity of the palette…it’s so perfectly aligned with what people are looking for in today’s market…it feels contemporary, edgy, and relevant.”
Blue-chip artists like Monet are always a good investment, but over the pandemic, demand for his work has grown, Dawes notes. Collectors are attracted to his oeuvre not just because of the value proposition and the endurance of his brand, but also because it is “jaw-droppingly beautiful.”
In addition, the paintings need no explanation or artistic context.
“The work speaks for itself,” he adds. “You don’t have to say anything.”
Indeed, Monet’s work has been in especially high demand in recent years. Sotheby’s also sold Monet’s Coin du bassin aux nymphéas, 1918, in November for $50.8 million and Le Bassin aux nymphéas, which fetched $70.4 million in May 2021. Both were expected to achieve around US$40 million, Dawes notes.
Several of the impressionist’s paintings were also part of a March Sotheby’s sale of modern and contemporary pieces, including Nymphéas, 1914-17. The piece had been in the same Japanese private collection for more than 40 years and sold for £23.2 million (US$30.6 million), with fees, significantly above its £20 million.
Sotheby’s declined to identify who currently owns the painting.