Francesco Guardi (1712 - 1793)
- Venice: the Dogana with Santa Maria della Salute
- c. 1770s
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 35 x 54.7 cm
Object size: 61 x 80.5 x 9.5 cm
- West Gallery I
- This painting, together with its pendant (see P517), 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 mouth of the Grand Canal, with the Santa Maria della Salute (middle right), the Dogana, or customs house (middle left) and the island of Giudecca (left distance). Views of Venice showing the Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana were particularly popular in the 18th century. The pendant painting (P517) shows a view taken from a similar vantage point, but looking east (towards the island of San Giorgio Maggiore) instead of west. Both compositions exist in numerous versions – one example in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is particularly close to the present picture. There is also a drawing by Guardi in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, which relates to the painted composition.
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.