Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Imaginary View of a Venetian Square or Campo

Artist:
Francesco Guardi (Italian, Venice 1712–1793 Venice)
Date:
1780s
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
12 3/8 x 10 5/8 in. (31.4 x 27 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection, Bequest of Emma A. Sheafer, 1973
Accession Number:
1974.356.28
Not on view
As well as depicting Venice, Francesco Guardi specialized in capricci, or imaginary views. When painting them he was much influenced by his predecessor Canaletto. Guardi’s capricci most often show ruined buildings near the water in a flat landscape which is sometimes embellished with distant mountains and often includes a few pastoral figures. However, some capricci are uprights, and, like the present example, small in dimensions. These show the squares or small enclosed spaces which the Venetians call campi, occasionally seen through a row of columns or arched openings. The ultimate source for such compositions seems to have been a largely imaginary view of a colonnade and courtyard (Accademia, Venice) painted by Canaletto in 1765 for the academy of his native city, as his reception piece, and publicly exhibited in Piazza San Marco in 1777 on a holiday, the Festa della Senza.

Guardi was prolific, working in pen and ink, and in ink wash, as well as in oil on canvas. He used watercolor sparingly and only for decorative purposes. An exception is a large (53 by 39 centimeters), highly finished gouache in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, depicting palaces, a flight of stairs, a typically Venetian sottoportego, a church, and an enclosed garden, as seen through a ruined arch from which a lantern is suspended. This gouache may relate to an engraving by Canaletto as well as to the 1765 painting by him in the Accademia. Our canvas, smaller than the gouache, seems in turn to derive from it. The column and arcades have been omitted and the staffage is different. A pedestal takes the place of the base of the column in the gouache. The buildings are in better repair. The light is blond and transparent in both, with heavy shadow defining the foreground. The painting may be dated to the end of the 1770s or the 1780s based on the costume—the wide skirt and feathered headdress—of the principal female figure in the center foreground.

[Katharine Baetjer 2016]
Dervaux, Paris; Mme Raymond Thome-Patenôtre (until shortly before 1962; sold to Rosenberg & Stiebel); [Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, until 1962; sold to Sheafer]; Emma A. Sheafer, New York (1962–d. 1973)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection: A Selective Presentation," July 16, 1975–?, no. 31.

Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. "Landscape Painting in the East and West," April 19–June 1, 1986, no. 6.

Kobe City Museum. "Landscape Painting in the East and West," June 7–July 13, 1986, no. 6.

Antonio Morassi. Guardi: Antonio e Francesco Guardi. Venice, [1973?], vol. 1, p. 452, no. 764; vol. 2, fig. 700, dates it a little later than the version in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, which he assigns to Guardi's mature period.

Luigina Rossi Bortolatto. L'opera completa di Francesco Guardi. Milan, 1974, p. 129, no. 655, ill. p. 127.

Canaletto Guardi: Les deux maîtres de Venise. Ed. Bozena Anna Kowalczyk. Exh. cat., Musée Jacquemart-André. Brussels, 2012, p. 184, fig. 2 (color).

Michel Delon, ed. The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France. New York, 2013, ill. p. 342 (color).



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