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

A lagoon capriccio with a ruined tower, a tent and other buildings

Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793)
A lagoon capriccio with a ruined tower, a tent and other buildings
black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, watermark three crescents and proprietary watermark Mezana (Heawood 874)
9 x 12¼ in. (22.6 x 31.3 cm.)
Adrien Fauchier-Magnan, Paris; Sotheby's, London, 4 December 1935, lot 28 ( to Colnaghi).
Anonymous sale; De Maigret, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 23 March 2008, lot 158.
with Jean-Luc Baroni, London (cat. 2008, no. 33), where acquired by the present owner.
A. Morassi, Guardi: Tutti I disegni di Antonio, Francesco e Giacomo Guardi, Venice, 1975, no. 629, fig. 605.

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Lot Essay

This impressionistic Lagoon capriccio embodies Guardi’s late evanescent drawing style. The landscape’s outlines, with its boats, figures and buildings, are defined with fine pen and ink and later reworked with pale brown to golden wash, in order to convey the shimmering effect of water and light of the lagoon banks. Achieved with technical virtuosity, the scene seems enveloped in a vaporous atmosphere, both airy and luminous. The drawing was executed after 1780 in preparation for a painting (whereabouts unknown, A. Morassi, Guardi. Antonio e Francesco Guardi, Venice, 1973, I, no. 922, II, fig. 815) with only minor variations and few alterations to the original design. Despite its preparatory function, the drawing stands on its own, revealing Guardi’s highly individual, almost pre-Romantic interpretation of landscape. Following a creative process adopted towards the end of his career, in his late landscapes Guardi distanced himself form the optical objectivity of his previous work, unfolding his 'own private world […] a world, one might say, of two elements only, of air and water' (J. Byam Shaw, The Drawings of Francesco Guardi, London 1951, p. 55).

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