By Anne Leader and Alexis Culotta

Veduta painter Francesco Guardi was born on 5 October 1712 in Venice. Over the course of his eighty years, Guardi would ascend the artistic ranks to rival view master Canaletto with his vistas of the lagoon city and elsewhere.

Son of painter Domenico Guardi, Francesco might have been influenced in his early years by the artistic tendencies of fellow Venetian Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who married Guardi’s sister, Maria Cecilia, in the 1710s. Regardless, in his early twenties, Guardi joined the studio of celebrated view painter Michele Marieschi, and it was there that he developed his penchant for atmospheric landscapes.

Though Francesco attempted other picture types, his greatest success and lasting reputation have come from his views of Venice (vedute), popular with foreigners on The Grand Tour as souvenirs. As a counterpoint to Canaletto, Gaurdi assumed a more atmospheric style that blended subtle sfumato with more vibrant coloristic effects. Also popular were his capricci, architectural fantasies popular with native Venetians that mix styles, eras, and monuments into single compositions. Following a bevy of prominent commissions that traced into the 1780s, Guardi died on New Year’s Day in 1793 in his hometown of Venice.

Reference: James Byam Shaw. “Guardi.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.

Further reading:  Francesco Guardi 1712-1793

Venice from the Bacino di San Marco, ca. 1760. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Adele L. Lehman, in memory of Arthur Lehman, 1965.

Piazza San Marco, 1750s. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950.

Architectural fantasy with a courtyard, 1780s. Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

An architectural capriccio. 18th century. Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, Gift of William Bowmore AO OBE 1999

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