Painting From Bethesda Home Sold at Auction for $687,125

An 18th-century Grand Canal painting, which was found in a local home, fetched $687,125. (Photo By Brian Searby — Sloans & Kenyon)

An 18th-century unsigned oil painting of the Grand Canal in Venice, estimated at a modest $6,000 to $8,000, sold for $687,125 Sunday afternoon at Sloans & Kenyon auction house in Chevy Chase. It is believed to be the most expensive painting ever sold at a Washington area auction.

Thirteen phone bidders competed against live bidders in the gallery for this work from the “school of” the 18th-century artist Giovanni Antonio Canaletto.

The auction company had received the piece from a Bethesda woman who has requested anonymity. The painting had been in the family since 1881, when her grandmother brought it back from Europe. The grandmother had embarked on what was known in the day as a “Grand Tour,” an excursion designed to expose the traveler to enlightenment, adventure, art and culture.

Grand tourists, as the travelers were known, would typically return with artwork they acquired on the journey, which was considered an essential ritual for entry into British high society. “They didn’t send postcards or bring back T-shirts,” said Ellen Garrity, communications director at Sloans & Kenyon. “They brought back paintings. The Washington Post

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