Sold with a copy of a photocopy of a certificate by Antonio Morassi, dated May 1961, as by Francesco Guardi.
Following Fiocco's attribution in 1950 of a pair of flower pieces in the Museo Diocesano at Trent to Francesco Guardi, a large group of stylistically related works, including several with false signatures, was assembled with the help of Sterling and Morassi. Many of the pictures follow the same tripartite compositional formula as the present work. Although doubts were expressed by Martini already in 1964 (E. Martini, La pittura veneziana del Settecento, Venice, 1964, pp. 278-9), several flower pieces were included in the great Mostra dei Guardi of 1965 at Palazzo Grassi (nos. 153-9) and Morassi continued to support the attribution, cataloguing a selection in his monograph of 1973 (A. Morassi, Guardi, Venice, 1973, I, pp. 499-50, nos. 1019-27; II, figs. 911-19). Since then, scholarly opinion has tended towards scepticism, Salerno christening their author the 'Pseudo-Guardi' (L. Salerno, La natura morta in Italia, Rome, 1984, pp. 314-15). For a recent summary, see Safarik and Bottari in La natura morta in Italia, Milan, 1989, I, pp. 342-3, where qualitative differences are noted but all the paintings are given to 'Ignoto pittore di ambito guardesco'. The problem remains open, and may now be seen as but one of several deriving from our lack of knowledge of the Guardi brothers' working procedures. Flowers feature prominently in a number of their figure paintings and Pilo has convincingly attributed to Francesco six altar fronts painted with flowers in the Redentore (G.M. Pilo, Francesco Guardi. I paliotti, Milan, 1983). Furthermore, X-radiographs have revealed flower pieces beneath view paintings by Francesco Guardi (see, for instance, E. Garberson in D. De Grazia and E. Garberson, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue: Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Washington, 1996, p. 129 and p. 125, fig. 1). While the tendency remains to doubt the Guardi brothers' authorship of the autonomous still-lifes (see M. Merling in ibid., p. 153), to place their execution outside the Guardi workshop would be contrary to the existing evidence.