Born on this Day: Francesco Guardi’s eye of Venice

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Landscape by Guardi

October 5, On This Day

Francesco Guardi was one of the most notable Venetian landscape painters of the rococo era, who produced elegant, graceful, and magnificently decorated works of art and architecture. He was a very active painter who created vibrant, evocative, and romantic depictions of Venice in decline. Guardi is renowned for his loosely painted, open, clearly visible brushstrokes and feeling of the sparkle of light oil sketches of Venice and its canals.

Francesco Guardi, a portrait painted by Pietro Longhi.

Francesco Guardi was born on October 5, 1712 in Venice, Italy. He was the son of Maria Claudia Pichler and painter Domenico Guardi. His brothers Niccolò and Giovanni Antonio Guardi were also painters. The finest Italian Rococo painter, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was married to his sister Maria Cecilia Guardi in 1719, may have had an impact on Guardi’s figures’ vividness.

A Francesco Guardi painting of the Giudecca Canal in Venice.

His early years were spent creating artwork and decorations for churches. Guardi didn’t start paying heed to views until his brother Gian Antonio passed away in 1760. Instead of receiving official instruction from another master, Francesco’s activity as a view painter most likely developed from the Guardi family tradition of imitating the works of other artists. He produced representations of the Venetian celebrations, as well as the architectural and landscape capricci that were so well-liked in the eighteenth century, like other view painters. His works were extremely successful. While Guardi produced views or vedute in the same manner as Canaletto, he quickly established his own style based on a more liberated use of paint. He took particular pleasure in rendering the vibrant atmosphere of Venetian light and its dazzling effect on water.

Lagoons with Gondala by Guardi

The water surrounding Venice seemed to intrigue Guardi more and more. In later works, like the well-known Lagoon with Gondola, structures and people have been removed, leaving only the sense of a long, uninterrupted expanse of quiet water, an unbroken stretch of sky, a few strokes to represent a man on a gondola, and a thin line of distant wharfs.

Guardi also painted the festivals that delighted visitors to the city, such as the Marriage of Venice to the Sea. Of all Guardi’s paintings the most evocative are his caprices, the landscapes born out of his imagination though suggested by the ruined buildings on the lonely islands of the Venetian lagoon. Guardi died on Jan. 1, 1793, 4 years after the outbreak of the French Revolution and as many before the end of the 1, 000-year-long history of the Venetian Republic.

His works are kept in the collections of different museums, including the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London, the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and others.

Sources: 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Guardi
  2. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Francesco-Guardi
  3. https://artuk.org/discover/artists/guardi-francesco-17121793

 

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