These fresh, intimately-sized panels exemplify the spirited, confident style of Guardi's full maturity. Charming in their conception and exquisitely painted, these works, along with a group of similarly-sized pictures that survive, demonstrate the considerable vogue of these late capricci among the artist's Venetian patrons. Unlike the more straightforward vedute prized by foreign collectors, these imaginary compositions revealed Guardi's power of invenzione (imagination), and were much admired by locals. As here, such works often feature diminutive figures in contemporary dress surrounded by ruined classical or Gothic architectural elements, often at the shore of the lagoon, and occasionally with a village or glimpse of Venice in the distance.
Although their early history is unknown, the present capricci eventually made their way to England, where they were recorded in 1973 by Morassi as in the collection of Robert Hays-Smith at Burlingame. A preparatory drawing for the second work was at Sotheby's, New York, 25 January 2006, lot 93 (fig. 1).