This capriccio (the pendant for which is lot 31 in this sale), is a relatively mature work by Guardi, possibly of the 1780s, and is one of a number in which the artist takes a ruined arch as his central motif, using this to help to draw the eye into his composition. To judge from the number of autograph versions of this, the type was popular. Morassi lists no fewer than nineteen (A. Morassi, Guardi, I dipinti, Venice, 1984, nos. 956-74), of which eight are of horizontal format (nos. 964 and 968-74). Of the recorded examples on panel this is by some considerable margin the largest. Guardi never repeats himself precisely. Similar groups of figures appear in other versions and the gate at the end of the road is seen in other variants (for example Morassi, nos. 958 and 961, figs. 849 and 847), but is most closely paralleled in the horizontal panel in the Art Institute at Chicago (Morassi, no. 964, fig. 853).
The lantern in this, which is also found in most of the related pictures, recalls those deployed in some of the variants of Guardi's upright views towards San Giorgio Maggiore from under the portico of the Doge's Palace (cf. A. Morassi, Guardi, I dipinti, Venice, 1984, no. 778, fig. 711), in other compositions with views seen through arches (eg. Morassi, nos. 785-6, figs. 716-7, the first in the Hermitage, also on panel and very similar to this panel in measurements of 27 x 23 cm.), and in some of the variants of the Portico with Shops composition (Morassi, nos. 812-4, figs. 737-8 and 740); the third of these, in the Wallace Collection, also oval and on panel measuring 27.6 by 22.1 cm., is, like this capriccio, one of a pair and evidently of similar date.