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Drawing

Drawing

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (possibly, drawn)

  • Date:

    ca.1730-1793 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Guardi, Francesco, born 1712 - died 1793 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Very slight, in pen, washed with bistre

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:

    DYCE.260

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case DG, shelf 112

Physical description

Scene under the arch of a temple, with figures assembled about the steps; beyond, a fine gateway; Very slight, in pen, washed with bistre.

Place of Origin

Italy (possibly, drawn)

Date

ca.1730-1793 (made)

Artist/maker

Guardi, Francesco, born 1712 - died 1793 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Very slight, in pen, washed with bistre

Dimensions

Height: 10.2 in, Width: 6.5 in

Object history note

Historical significance: Francesco Guardi was the most celebrated member of a family of eighteenth-century Venetian artists. After the death of his brother Giovanni in the middle of the century, Francesco established himself as a Veduta painter. Although he borrowed from many artists, the most important source of inspiration in his early period was certainly Canaletto. However, the painters probably had never worked together. Guardi followed closely Canaletto’s drawings and engravings in his topographically accurate views of Venice, which were in demand among foreign collectors.

Later in the 1770s and 1780s, Guardi’s style becomes looser and freer. He also painted the figures according to contemporary fashion, which makes his paintings a valuable indication of the current trends in hairstyle and dress. The ladies in his works from that period wear high coiffures decorated with feathers and flowers inspired by French and English fashions. Guardi was more comfortable with small figures in architectural setting than with large-scale religious scenes in altarpieces.

Venetian patrons preferred Guardi’s imaginary views, called capricci, to the straightforward recreations of the architecture of the city. The motifs include creative ensembles of classical architecture, picturesque ruins, Gothic arches, harbours and obelisks. Guardi often repeated these details introducing slight variations. Identifiable architectural details from Venice, such as the Doge’s Palace, conflate in the capricci with fruits of Guardi’s imagination.

Francesco Guardi died in 1793 as a major figure on the artistic scene. His characteristic style and considerable output encouraged many forgeries, especially in the medium of drawing.

This drawing is a capriccio or an imaginary ensemble of architecture and figures. The free, sketchy style is characteristic of Guardi’s late period. A date after 1780 has been suggested by Shaw on the basis of the style and the lady’s headdress (Byam Shaw , p. 74, no. 60 and p. 55). A related painting has been found in the Thierry collection in Paris (Morassi 1973, no. 758). Guardi often used similar sets of figures in a number of drawings and paintings. The couple at the top of the stairs appear in a sheet of macchiette (Morassi 1975, no. 206). These were quick sketches of Venetian lively crowds made with daubs of colour. Figural groups developed in that way would populate Guardi’s vedute, or city views. The woman with a basket and child on the lower right is repeated in a drawing in the Correr Museum (Moraassi, Tutti I disegni, no. 217).

The sheet has a border around the edge in brown wash, similar to the one in Dyce 261 and other drawings by Guardi.

References:

Morassi, Antonio; Guardi : tutti i disegni di Antonio, Francesco e Giacomo Guardi, (Alfieri, Venezia 1975)

Morassi, Antonio; Guardi: Antonio e Francesco Guardi, (Alfieri, Venezia 1973)

Descriptive line

Guardi, Francesco; Scene under the arch of a temple, with figures assembled about the steps; beyond, a fine gateway; Very slight, in pen, washed with bistre; Venetian School; ca.1730-1793.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London : South Kensington Museum, 1874.

The relevant text of the entry is as follows:

'VENETIAN SCHOOL.
...
FRANCESCO GUARDI.
Born at Venice in 1712, died in 1793.

SCENE under the arch of a temple, with figures assembled about the steps; beyond, a fine gateway. Very slight, in pen, washed with bistre. 260
Height, 10 2/12 inches. Width, 6 6/12 inches.'
Ward-Jackson, Peter, Italian Drawings Volume II. 17th-18th century, London, 1979, p. 149, illus.

The following is the full text of the entry:

GUARDI, FRANCESCO
(1712-93)

1030

Architectural capriccio, with figures beneath an arcade
Pen and ink and wash over black chalk
10 1/8 x 6 1/2 (257 x 165) Dyce 260

PROVENANCE Dyce Bequest 1869

LITERATURE Dyce Catalogue no. 260 (as by Guardi); Reitlinger, p. 17, no. 38; Borenius, p. 224; Pallucchini, p. 30; Byam Shaw, p. 74, no. 60 and p. 55; I. Moskowitz (editor), Great Drawings of all time, New York, 1962, I, pl, 298; W. Ames, Italian drawings from the 15th to the 18th century, 1963, pl, 95; Morassi, Tutti i disegni, no. 510, pl, 506

Byam Shaw dates the drawing after 1780 from the style and the lady's headdress. A painting which partly corresponds is in the Thierry collection, Paris (Morassi, L' opera completa, no. 758). The figures, as Byam Shaw observes, may be found again in other works of Guardi: the lady and gentleman at the top of the steps occur in a sheet of macchiette in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Byam Shaw, pi. 51; Morassi, Tutti i disegni, no. 206), while the woman with a basket and child are the same in a drawing in the Correr Museum (Pallucchini, pi. 36; Morassi, Tutti i disegni, no. 217). The sheet of 18th century paper on which the drawing js mounted has a border round the edge in brown wash, exactly as in no. 1029 and nos. 5 and 7 in Byam Shaw (p. 58).

Materials

Pen; Bistre

Techniques

Drawing; Wash technique

Subjects depicted

Temple; Gateway; Figures (representations); Arch; Steps

Categories

Drawings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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