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Francesco Guardi

Painter of atmospheric vedute

La Canal de la Giudecca, by F. Guardi

One of last great artists of the Serenissima, Francesco Guardi (1712–93) was born into a family of artists. He was the younger brother of Gian Antonio, with whom he often worked, making some attributions difficult.

Francesco's favourite subject was Venice. He started off painting in the style of Canaletto, but soon broke away and found his own style, creating views or vedute suffused with atmosphere, painted with quick small brush strokes and dots (a technique called di tocco, inspired by Piazzetta and Ricci). Some of his later works approach Impressionism, although criticial opinion remains keenly divided over whether he or his brother Gian Antonio produced the precocious Life of Tobias in Angelo Raffaele. He also became known for his capriccios, which were popular among the Venetian middle class and clergy, but in his lifetime he never achieved great fame or fortune.

Other works are in the Ca' Rezzonico, Ca’d’Oro and Accademia.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Creative Commons