Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793)
Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793)

The Island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, Venice

Details
Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793)
The Island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, Venice
oil on panel
6 ¾ x 9 5/8 in. (17.3 x 24.4 cm.)
Provenance
The Right Honourable George Augustus Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck, M.P., P.C. (1821-1891), 3 Grafton Street, London, and Brownsea Island; his sale (†), Christie’s, London, 12 July 1891, lot 661, as ‘GUARDI’, and as part of ‘a set of twelve pictures of the islands of the Lagune [sic]’, where acquired by the following
with Colnaghi, London.
Private collection, France, where acquired by the present owner.
Sale room notice
Please note there is additional provenance for this lot:

The Right Honourable George Augustus Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck, M.P., P.C. (1821-1891), 3 Grafton Street, London, and Brownsea Island; his sale (†), Christie’s, London, 12 July 1891, lot 661, as ‘GUARDI’, and as part of ‘a set of twelve pictures of the islands of the Lagune [sic]’, where acquired by the following
with Colnaghi, London.

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Lot Essay

This panel belongs to a series of diminutive vedute of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon painted by Francesco Guardi. Many of these views derive from Antonio Visentini’s charming 18th-century engravings of the twenty Venetian islands, illustrated in his Isolario Veneto, and, indeed, the present composition corresponds closely, although not quite exactly, with Visentini’s engraving no. XII (see D. Succi, Canaletto & Visentini: Venezia & Londra, exhibition catalogue, Cà Pesaro, 1986, pp. 262-63, no. 54). While Guardi remained faithful to Visentini’s topography, he abbreviated the engraver’s composition to the left and altered entirely the positioning of the boats so that his panel is pleasingly framed by tall masts on the right, which echo and offset the soaring Romanesque campanile on the left. Similarly, Guardi’s small-scale View of the Island of San Lazzaro, Venice, which was offered at Sotheby's, New York, on 28 January 2010, lot 335, directly relates to Visentini’s engraving no. XI (see ibid., no. 53).

The tiny island of Lazzaretto Vecchio lies to the southeast of the city of Venice, near the western coast of the Lido in the central lagoon. It was first inhabited by hermits, who established a church consecrated to Saint Mary of Nazareth and a hospice for pilgrims returning from the Holy Land. In 1423, on the advice of Saint Benedict of Siena, the island was selected as the site for a hospital devoted to the care of victims of the plague, which at the time was raging throughout Venice and Europe, following the devastating outbreak in 1348. However, by Guardi’s day, the island had long ceased to be used as a place of quarantine for the disease.

The island was refashioned as a military depot in the mid-19th century, during which time its geography changed dramatically. Several notable buildings were demolished, including the church and the Romanesque bell tower, pictured here, two gunpowder towers, and two wings of the cloister.

An old, handwritten inscription on the reverse of the panel reads ‘Isola del Lazzeretto Vecchio di Venezia.’ Similar inscriptions have been found on the reverse of other panels by Guardi, such as the aforementioned view from the same series offered at Sotheby’s in 2010 and The Punta della Dogana, Venice, sold at Christie's, London, 8 July 2016, lot 214. A view of the island by Francesco Guardi of almost identical dimensions was sold as part of a pair for 650 gns. at Christie's, London, 23 July 1954, lot 42.

We are grateful to Bozena Anna Kowalczyk for confirming the attribution on the basis of a photograph (written communication, 16 March 2017).

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