Francesco Guardi is famous for views of the Serenissima that convey the city's singular atmosphere. Here, we see the island of the Giudecca, dominated by the Church of Santa Maria della Presentazione.
Francesco Guardi (1712-1793), Venice, a View towards the Giudecca and the Church of le Zitelle, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 44.5 cm (12 x 17.5 in).
Don't even try to remember where you might have seen this painting; it has been in a private collection since July 2, 1915, when it was purchased in London at Christie's. Its provenance is far from being its only asset. Here Francesco Guardi (1712-1793), the most famous member of a dynasty of painters, has produced a speaking view with its perspective, depth of field and vibrant, shimmering light, using his secret weapon: sand mixed with the pigments, giving an almost granite-like aspect to his works. The palette, reduced to a monochrome of grays, blues and whites, is enhanced with unusual touches of salmon. The generous substance of water and sky dialogues with the much less abundant material of the architecture, which the artist first worked in pen. He painted this view with a verve characteristic of his late style. The almost threatening sky evokes that of the 1782 Procession in St. Mark's Square in Honor of the Visit of the Count and Countess of the North, Grand Duke Paul and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna, Future Czars of Russia. The central figure of the gondolier in a yellow jacket evokes the one in a painting of 1785, San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti, in terms of both costume and attitude. No matter that the reflections in the dark water seem rather exaggerated; the painter truly gives life to the details, the characters, the lights and the almost melancholy atmosphere of this familiar and magical city.