An architectural capriccio

Francesco Lazzaro Guardi

  • An architectural capriccio 2
Basic information
Francesco Lazzaro Guardi
An architectural capriccio
Date of creation
1770 – early 1780s
pen Indian ink
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
19.8 x 14.3
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
Francesco Guardi, working on his 'Architectural Capriccio', was largely inspired by the works of his predecessor Canaletto. However, in contrast to Canaletto, he chose a vertical format on small sheets for most of his fantasy compositions. Guardi often interpreted elements from real architectural objects - Venetian palazzi, squares or small enclosed courtyards, which in Venice were called campi, depicting them from under colonnades of porticoes and galleries. Guardi repeatedly turned to this architectural view, at least we can find a number of similar images with minor changes in composition. The closest to the work from the gallery is a canvas from the collection of the Musée Jacquemart-André and an excellent sketch in gouache from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The considerable similarity in composition, the positioning of figures and details suggest that the drawing was made as a preparatory study for a painting from the Musée Jacquemart-André. Canaletto's painting of a long colonnade with a small square, executed in 1765 for the Academy of Arts in Venice, may have been the original source of a series of these works. It should be noted that works with the same architectural appearance date from 1770–1780. The drawing from Lviv can also be dated to this period.