Gugliemo Ciardi was born in Venice in 1842, and studied at the Instituto di Belle Arti under Domenico Bresolin where he was trained in a vigorous Academic program. In 1868 Ciardi's contemporary and fellow Venetian Federico Zandomeneghi gave him a letter of introduction to Telemaco Signorini, one of the leading figures of the Macchiaioli group in Florence. The Macchiaioli's innovative work reflected a break from academic tenants and had earned them the interest of critics and collectors. As with the work of the Impressionists in France, the Macchiaioli sought to record the impressions and fleeting instants of scenes from their surroundings and to depict them in a sincere and realistic manner. The effect of their work can be seen in Ciardi's departure from his earlier Academic style toward a more naturalistic technique. He ventured to Naples to become acquainted with the work of Angelo Morbelli, Filippo Palizzi and Achille Gigante and between 1870 and 1880 he traveled abroad for the first time. Together with Giacomo Favretto and Luigi Nono, Ciardi is credited with introducing these modern ideas to Venice and thereby renewing Venetian painting in the second half of the nineteenth century.
In The Geese Tenders, Ciardi deftly captures the luminous effects of the mid-day light as it plays against the myriad textures of the landscape and water. The painting precisely depicts the light, atmosphere and unique character of the environs. The sense of verisimilitude is furthered by the manner in which Ciardi captures the effect of the brilliant light as it gleans off the whites of the figures's shirts and the feathers of the gaggle of geese, and by the naturalistic posing of the figures and fowl. While the painting gives the impression of being a spontaneous arrangement, its geometric structure reveals that it is indeed a carefully planned composition. The Geese Tenders probably dates from the 1880's-1890's during a period when Ciardi painted scenes of the countrylife near the town of Treviso near Venice. In the paintings from these years, "the feeling for nature has overcome the rigorous geometry and the handling has become comparatively impulsive, in the suggestive confrontation it purposes between transparencies and the use of a palette knife--by turns resistant and rigid as well as soft and crumbling--in an altogether altered approach to color, and a more improvised conception of pictorial structure" (A. Baboni, Masterpiecesof Nineteenth Century Italian Painting from the Gaetano Marzotto Collection, exh. cat, p. 71).
Ciardi's unique technique earned him numerous honors both in Italy and abroad, and his works were included in exhibitions throughout Italy. His international reputation was secured in 1886 when he received a gold medal in Berlin and Nice for Messidor. Ciardi's paintings were avidly collected by both American and English patrons and by museums as varied as Berlin, Glasgow, Paris and Rome.