Francesco Guardi (1712 - 1793)
- Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore with the Giudecca
- c. 1770s
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 35.2 x 54.7 cm
Object size: 60.5 x 80.6 x 10 cm
- West Gallery I
- This painting, together with its pendant (see P518), dates from Guardi’s mature period and aptly demonstrates the style and technique for which the artist is best known and celebrated. It shows a view of Venice looking across the Bacino di San Marco, 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. The pendant painting (P518) shows a view taken from a similar vantage point, but looking west (towards the Santa Maria Della Salute) instead of east. Both compositions exist in numerous versions (see P491, for example).
The dramatic light, silvery tonality and short brushstrokes suggest a date of c. 1770s or early 1780s. Particularly notable is the way in which Guardi has skilfully captured the unique light and haze of Venice, in which the water, air and land seem to blur together. The overall impression is atmospheric and generalised – qualities which distinguish Guardi’s works from the detailed and precise observations of his major predecessor, Canaletto.
Although Guardi painted more pictures than Canaletto, he did not enjoy the same level of success with British buyers and Grand Tourists. Indeed, Guardi seems to have been more popular with French patrons and collectors – interestingly, the 4th Marquess of Hertford seemingly acquired the present picture in Paris in the 19th century.