Rare Tiepolo altarpiece expected to fetch more than $15 million at Sotheby's

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 'Madonna of the Rosary with Angels' (1735)

The monumental canvas, composed in 1735, will likely lead Sotheby's Master Paintings Evening Sale on January 29.

"Madonna of the Rosary With Angels" dates from the period considered to be the most significant for Venetian Rococo master Giovanni Battista (Giambattista) Tiepolo.

The original commission of this monumental oil-on-canvas has yet to determined, although art historians estimate that it was certainly painted for a Dominican church or oratory. By 1735, the demand for large altarpieces in Venetian churches had diminished, and Tiepolo had not yet received a major religious commission there.

The Rococo painter was employed in the northeastern Italian city of Udine at the time, prompting historians to believe that "Madonna of the Rosary With Angels" may have been intended for a church in the region.

Most masterpieces of this caliber by Tiepolo are still in situ or displayed in international museums, leading specialists to believe that "Madonna of the Rosary With Angels" is the only large-scale altarpiece by the 18th-century painter still in private hands.

Though the early provenance of the altarpiece is still unknown, "Madonna of the Rosary With Angels" is expected to fetch more than $15 million.

Also on sale during Sotheby's Master Paintings Evening Sale will be Sir Peter Paul Rubens's "The Virgin and Christ Child, With Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist," which is estimated to fetch between $6 million and $8 million.

This newly-rediscovered masterpiece has been in private collections since 1946, when it was last sold at auction.

Highlights of Sotheby's Master Paintings Evening Sale will be on public view in the house's New York galleries beginning January 24, before hitting the auction block on January 29, 2020.