Francesco Guardi (1712 - 1793)
- Venice: Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 68.5 x 90.5 cm
Made up to, Object size: 70.5 x 93.5 cm
with frame, Object size: 72.5 x 104.5 x 6 cm
- West Gallery I
- This picture is one of a set of four paintings purchased by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in 1865 (see P491, P508 and P494). The paintings were highly regarded in the 19th century and, until recently, were still considered to 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 P491, P508 and P494 probably form a separate pairing.
Both P491 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.
P503 shows a view across the Grand Canal, looking towards the Santa Maria della Salute. Paintings of Venice showing the domes of Santa Maria della Salute – the pre-eminent Baroque church in Venice, and the focal point of this stretch of the Grand Canal – were particularly popular in the 18th century. Here, Guardi has deliberately widened the mouth of the Grand Canal in order to provide a more impressive watery stage for this monumental building. This is characteristic of Guardi’s later work, in which the artist often enlarged spaces or rearranged buildings for pictorial effect. The composition exists in several versions (for example in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa) and several related drawings are known.