View of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Francesco Lazzaro Guardi

  • View of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore 2
Basic information
Francesco Lazzaro Guardi
View of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore
Date of creation
1770 – early 1780s
pen Indian ink
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
16.7 x 21.9
Information about author
Francesco Lazzaro Guardi
Artist's lifetime
There is little information about Francesco Guardi (Venice, 1712 – 1793, Venice). The Guardi family owned a small atelier that specialized in copying the works of famous artists and fulfilling church commissions. After his father and elder brother, who ran the workshop, Francesco took over and from then on began painting and copying landscapes. His contemporaries called him the second Canaletto, although he never learned from him. Guardi was able to depict masterfully the shadows of houses and people. He painted a city that was alive, changing before his eyes. Seeking a special mood, the artist often repeated the same subjects and motifs. He often borrowed ideas from his predecessors' paintings, giving them a special spirituality. After the mid-1760s Guardi returned to the genre of Veduta as he was the only artist who worked in this genre at the time, demonstrating the quality of his work. His work, which includes some six hundred surviving drawings, dates from the last decade of his life. Predominantly capriccio and maquettes are what remained in the artist's studio at the time of his death.
Object description
Guardi's legacy of around six hundred surviving drawings comes from the last decade of his life. Most of them are what remained in the artist's studio at the time of his death. Predominantly the works belong to the category of Capriccio: combinations of real or imaginary buildings, ruins and landscapes arising from the author's imagination. The Venetians were always inclined to appreciate the creativity, artistry and wit of the "capriccio", which was a counterbalance to the familiar daily views of the hometown. The view of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore was one of the favourite motifs to which the artist turned during the 1770s and early 1780s. This group of works, comprising some thirty signed paintings and several dozen drawings, demonstrates that Guardi used one standardised compositional type. All the works in this group were painted from virtually the same perspective along the Riva degli Schiavoni, possibly from the side of the facade of the Banco di San Marco. The main place in the composition of the work presented is occupied by the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, brilliantly drawn in a contrasting manner. The drawing is thought to have been made as an independent work and dates from the 1770s and early 1780s.