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FRANCESCO GUARDI (VENICE 1712-1793)
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FRANCESCO GUARDI (VENICE 1712-1793)

AN ARCHITECTURAL CAPRICCIO WITH AN ARCH AND AWNING

Details
FRANCESCO GUARDI (VENICE 1712-1793)
AN ARCHITECTURAL CAPRICCIO WITH AN ARCH AND AWNING
with contemporary inscription 'N. 19' 'di Franco Guardi Veneziano
parte del Palazzo Ducale' and associated number 'N. 19' (on the reverse)
oil on panel
8 x 6 3/8 in. (20.2 x 16.2 cm.)
Provenance
A. Dumas fils, Paris.
F. (?) Dreyfus, Paris.
Private collection, New York, by 1973.
Literature
A. Morassi, Guardi, Antonio e Francesco Guardi, Venice, 1973, reprinted as Guardi, i dipinti, 1984, I, pp. 275 and 451, no. 757, II, fig. 695.
L. Rossi Bortolatto, L'opera completa di Francesco Guardi, Milan, 1974, p. 130, no. 661, illustrated p. 127.
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Lot Essay

Like the companion lot in which the principal figures are also a couple described in the height of fashion and seen from the back, this picture exemplifies Guardi's range as a painter of capricci in his full maturity. Morassi who accords a full page (albeit enlarged) plate to this and to no other of Guardi's capricci of the format, characterises it: 'Opera bellissma per fantasia inventiva: "capriccio" tra i più riusciti nel repertorio di Francesco in questo genere.' He considered the picture to be coeval with the companion, and thus of 1780. The existence of a reduced variant in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille (fig. 1 and Bortolatto, no. 662), attests to the success of the design: in that panel the curtain is also green but the colours of the elegant couple are reversed, he in blue rather than red, she with red and white rather than blue and white plumes. A reduced autograph variant in the reverse direction is in a private collection in Washington.

Both this panel and its companion are relatively unusual among Guardi's capricci in showing people of the highest fashion. The inscription (fig. 2) is puzzling, for the architecture of course bears no relationship with that of the Ducal Palace: perhaps the writer incorrectly transcribed a description referring to the picture is showing a departure from a ducal palace. The structure is most unusual, half a cover rotunda supported on corinthian columns: it reappears, with an oculus in reverse in a small capriccio in the National Gallery, London, no. 2521 (fig. 3 and Morassi, no. 1009, fig. 891), of which Levey (M. Levey, National Gallery Catalogues, The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Italian Schools, London, 1971, p. 126) records a version lent by Mrs George Baker, Jr., to the exhibition, Venice, 1200-1800, Detroit and Indianapolis, 1952, no. 39, and 'another (?)' once in the Weber collection, Hamburg.

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