Francesco Guardi (1712 - 1793)
- Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore with the Giudecca and the Zitelle
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 68.7 x 91.5 cm
Made up to, Object size: 70.5 x 93.5 cm
with frame, Object size: 104.5 x 126 x 15.5 cm
- West Gallery I
- This picture is one of a set of four paintings purchased by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in 1865 (see P503, P508 and P494). The paintings were highly regarded in the 19th century and, until recently, were still considered to be the only set of four topographical views by Guardi still together. However, a difference in style, technique and composition revealed by conservation work suggests that whilst the present picture is undoubtedly a pendant to P503, P508 and P494 probably form a separate pairing.
Both P503 and the present picture can be dated to the 1780s, when Guardi’s less meticulous approach was particularly prevalent. The overall impression is atmospheric and generalised – qualities which distinguish Guardi’s works from the detailed and precise observations of his major predecessor, Canaletto.
P491 shows a view across the Bacino di San Marco, looking towards the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore (on the left) and Giudecca (on the right). This view – with the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), as its focal point – is taken from the quayside of the main land (the Riva degli Schiavoni) and represents one of the most popular scenes within 18th-century Venetian view painting. However, the painting is not topographically accurate and the view has been manipulated for artistic effect – thus the real subject of the painting is arguably the unique atmosphere of Venice. The composition exists in numerous versions (see P517, for example).