Francesco Guardi, Venice 1712 - 1793 Venice
Famous today for his ethereal views of Venice, Francesco Guardi came from a family of painters active in the city throughout the eighteenth century. Francesco’s father died when he was a small child and his elder brother Giovanni Antonio assumed leadership of the family workshop. Francesco worked there for decades, collaborating with his brother on the production of religious and history paintings for churches and palazzi in and beyond Venice. At some point in the 1750s, Francesco began to paint views. Though initially working in the style of Canaletto and Michele Marieschi, sometimes even borrowing entire compositions from their paintings and prints, Francesco gradually developed his own manner. His brushwork increasingly loosened and fractured as he embraced a soft, pastelline palette and subtle light effects to create a shimmering atmospheric veil across the surface of intimately scaled canvases. He also began to modify the relative proportions of buildings and experiment with perspectival recession for expressive effect. Like other view painters, Francesco not only recorded the architecture of the city but also painted depictions of Venetian celebrations as well as the imaginary landscapes, or capricci, so popular in the eighteenth century. Francesco’s prolific output never attracted the attention of foreign visitors as Canaletto had done, but were instead favoured mainly by Venetian patrons, and later celebrated during the era of Impressionism, when the spontaneity, bravura, and atmosphere of his vibrant and rapidly painted views achieved new resonance with connoisseurs and collectors.
Francesco GuardiView of the Piazza San Marco looking towards the Piazzetta, c. 1780Oil on canvas26.7 x 45.7 cm (10 1/2 x 18 in.)
Francesco GuardiCapriccio with arch in decay and villa in the background, c. 1770Oil on canvas30.5 x 50.5 cm (12 1/8 x 19 7/8 in.)
With frame: 45 x 66 x 6 cm (17 3/4 x 26 x 2 3/8 in.)
Francesco GuardiA View of the Piazzetta Looking towards the Bacino and the Island of San Giorgio, 1760sOil on canvas58.5 x 68 cm (23 1/8 x 26 3/4 in.)