Collecting - Issue 94 - Magazine | Monocle

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We meet a Californian entrepreneur who has a collection of more than 100 maritime paintings.

Tony Guanci


Newport Beach, California

Californian entrepreneur Tony Guanci consults for some of the world’s biggest entertainment organisations. A childhood affinity with ships led him to amass more than 100 nautical paintings, including masterpieces by UK painters James E Buttersworth and Robert Salmon, and US maestro Fitz Henry Lane.

What sparked your enthusiasm for maritime art?
As a young boy growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, my parents would often take me to the museum and I became friendly with the maritime curator. I was 12 when I bought my first painting by Robert Salmon. I borrowed money from the antique-shop owner and it took me a year and a half to pay it off. To this day my passion for nautically themed art has continued to grow.

What is your favourite piece?
An oil painting by New York painter Norman Rockwell called “Two Men Fishing”. It depicts two men in a rowboat heading out for a fishing trip, the younger man working hard and the older one enjoying a cup of steaming coffee. This reminds me of fishing trips I used to take with my father.

How would you describe your relationship with your collection?
Each painting represents a moment of time in my life. The paintings are not only memories and the history of the world but also my personal diary.


We head to Philadelphia to see which marine artworks are on offer at Freeman’s auction house.



14 June

For centuries artists from JMW Turner to Winslow Homer have tried to capture the ocean on canvas. This June the European Art & Old Masters sale at Freeman’s auction house in Philadelphia is offering a selection of marine artwork courtesy of creative seafarers.

Among the pieces are two portraits of ships on the high seas – “Departing Day” and “Breezing Up” – by UK painter Montague Dawson, who served in the Royal Navy during the First World War. “Dawson’s ability lies in accurately rendering ships with great optical fidelity in different media,” says David Weiss, senior vice-president and department head of European Art & Old Masters.

For a more serene option soak up the evening scenery in Hermann David Salomon Corrodi’s “Moonlight Along the Coast”. The 19th-century Italian painter’s depictions of the Far East earned him a reputation as a skilled landscape and orientalist painter.


“Departing Day”
Verso, oil on canvas
61cm × 112.4cm
Estimate: $30,000 to $50,000 (€26,500 to €44,200)

“Moonlight Along the Coast”
Oil on canvas
55.2cm × 99.4cm
Estimate: $6,000 to $9,000 (€5,300 to €8,000)

Well hung

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside in Alassio, especially when it means visiting Galleria L’Image.

Alessandro Bellenda



Located on the seaside promenade in the town of Alassio on the Italian Riviera, Galleria L’Image specialises in vintage Italian posters from the 20th century. Opened in 1998, the gallery stocks more than 2,000 original works – from 1920 lithographic prints promoting Campari to tourism adverts of Capri – that are available for sale. In addition, owner Alessandro Bellenda has amassed a personal collection and his archive has been loaned to museums and published in book form, including Travel Italia, an anthology of travel posters from 1920 to 1960.

What prompted your interest in posters?
When I was seven I received a toy locomotive with a sleeper car and I fell in love with trains and overnight operators such as the Orient Express, and the advertisements they had. When I was 25 I bought my first poster: a 1931 piece promoting the Taurus Express’s London-Baghdad service. From adverts for transatlantic liners to illustrated prints of Venice, travel posters are a big interest of mine.

What is your favourite period?
Art deco. The posters from that era have few spot colours, geometric lines and stylised lettering. They are composed of scarcely any elements but communicate effectively. I love the furnishings from that period too. In the gallery we have a pair of chairs that were once aboard the French liner SS Normandie.

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