Venice: Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. In the third centenary of the birth of Francesco Guardi, the last great landscape artist of the 18th century, the monographic exhibition at the Museo Correr, until January 6, aims to highlight his complex artistic production, from the lesser-known figure paintings of his youth to the ‘interior scenes’, concluding with the splendid views of Venice and his fabulous capriccios, painted in his maturity and old age.
Above: Il Molo e la Riva degli Schiavoni dal Bacino San Marco, oil on canvas, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. The Ridotto was the first gambling house to be operated directly by the state. It used to open during the months of the endless Venetian carnival, lasting from December 26 to Ash Wednesday. Its clients were required to wear masks, with the exception of the noblemen who ran the tables and who were chosen from the least prosperous families, the so-called Barnabotti class of impoverished nobility. Frequented by pimps, prostitutes and usurers, it was closed for reasons of public order in 1774. Francesco’s picture is certainly the most interesting depiction of this space, visited by all travelers spending any time in the city.
Above: Il Ridotto di Palazzo Dandolo a San Moise, oil on canvas, Venice, Ca Rezzonico, Museo del Settecento Veneziano.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Guardi’s first works echoed the compositions of Canaletto and Marieschi, but his unique style does already emerge in some of these works, including in the St. Mark’s Square belonging to the National Gallery in London, above, in which the figures, painted by frothy little impastos of color, reveal a lively chromatic touch.
Above: La Piazza San Marco verso La Basilica, oil on canvas, London, The National Gallery.
Piazza San Marco as seen, today from a window of the Correr Museum.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Il Canale della Giudecca con la Chiesa dei Gesuati, oil on canvas, Private collection (courtesy Sotheby’s, London).
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Il Canal Grande a Ca’ Rezzonico, pen and brush, ink and watercolor, London, The British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Camera Ottica, Manifattura Veneziana, Venice, Museo Correr. Guardi often used the camera ottica for paintings, like the views of San Marco and the Rialto, just to name a couple.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Guardi produced landscapes and capriccios throughout his career. His source of inspiration came from prints or paintings of others; he re-elaborated these through his own eyes, similar to the distorting lens of a kaleidoscope, and presents the observer with compositions that are made unique by his extraordinary delicate execution. The case is different from the capriccios which by definition bring together into a single picture a series of real and imagined places, ancient and modern architecture. This is a typically 18th century genre, and might have been invented to give free rein to Guardi’s imagination. Using Canaletto’s etchings as a starting point, he renewed the genre, transporting the antique ruins, stripped of any classical connotation, to the shores of the lagoon. With this context, it is worth making separate mention of the late Capriccio with Archway, a Guardi specialty framing views of landscapes and fantastic landscapes within a dark archway placed in the foreground.
Above: Capriccio con Casa Rustica in Riva alla Laguna, oil on canvas, private collection.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Burrasca in Mare, oil on canvas, Milan, Raccolte d’Arte Antica e Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco.
Museo Correr - Francesco Guardi 1712-1793. Apart from a number of airy capriccios, Guardi also painted some splendid pictures of villas half-hidden in the green Veneto countryside, and alongside traditional views of Venice he added others of the lagoon, broadening the horizons of 18th-century Venetian landscape and dissolving it in wide stretches of water and sky.
Above: Veduta di Villa Loredan a Paese, oil on Canvas, London-Milan, Robiland + Voena. This work, painted in 1778, is part of a series of four pictures commissioned from the artist by John Strange, the British resident in Venice from 1773-1790, and one of the most important patrons of Guardi. In this case, he asked the artist to depict his own summer residence. The result is one of his most successful works of the period. Rather than a chromatic fusion, there is a stress laid on color, with the green of the lawn contrasting and highlighting the blue of the sky. The detailed rendering of some details does not prevent the artist from showing a large portion of sky, suffused with thin, ethereal clouds.
The Island of San Giorgio Maggiore as seen from a window of the Correr Museum.