In the third centenary of the birth of Francesco Guardi, the last great landscape artist of the 18th century, the monographic exhibition promoted by the Fondazione dei Musei Civici di Venezia aims to highlight his complex artistic production, from the lesser-known figure paintings of his youth to the ‘interior scenes’, concluding with the splendid views of Venice and his fabulous capriccios, painted in his maturity and old age.
The exhibition at the Museo Correr will illustrate the various phases in Guardi’s development thanks to a series of major loans of works never before made to Venice.
The first part of the exhibition will focus on the production of works of a prevalently everyday life subject inspired by genre painting of costume painting, once dominated by Pietro Longhi. The exhibition will present two masterpieces from this period: The Ridotto and The Parlour of the nuns at San Zaccaria, now in Ca’ Rezzonico, real symbol images of the 18th Century in Venice.
To the first production of views, capriccios and fantastic landscapes is dedicated the second part of the exhibition. His first works echoed the compositions of Canaletto and Marieschi, but his unique style does already emerge in some of these works, including in the St. Mark’s Square belonging to the National Gallery in London, in which the figures, painted by frothy little impastos of colour, reveal a lively chromatic touch.
Francesco Guardi was also the last “reporter” of ceremonies in the Serenissima, with works included in a specific section of the exhibition.The canavas showing the Bucentaur at San Nicolò on the Lido is exemplary: although faithful to its model, it creates an image of unmatched appeal. The gondolas and Bucentaur used for special occasions seem to shimmer on the water; a myriad of reflections sparkle on the slightly choppy sea, while tiny figures resembling Oriental ideograms bustle in the vessels.
Another section of the exhibition is dedicated to views and capriccios, even if this is a production typical of all the artistic life of Francesco Guardi, to underline his contribute compared to other venetian artistis. For example Landscapes from Hermitage in San Petersburg, where the natural element is transfigured by unreal luministic effects, while real masterpieces among capriccios are the two Fantastic landscapes of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. This could be defined as the most interesting section of the exhibition, giving the opportunity to compare a significant number of works of art never shown together before and, so, to verify the chronological proposal made by experts.
Apart from a number of airy capriccios, he also painted some splendid pictures of villas half-hidden in the green Veneto countryside, and alongside traditional views of Venice he added others of the lagoon, broadening the horizons of 18th-century Venetian landscape and dissolving it in wide stretches of water and sky. To this production is dedicated the last section of the exhibition.
The exhibition will present a total of over 100 paintings and drawings from leading Italian and foreign institutions, including the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, the National Gallery of Washington, the National Gallery in London, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, the Alte Pinakothek of Munich, the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon, the Hermitage of Saint Petersburg, the Fine Art Museum of Boston, the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo and the Poldi Pezzoli of Milan.
The exhibition can boast an academic committee formed of the leading international scholars of 18th-century Venetian painting, and will be accompanied by a comprehensive, well-illustrated catalogue edited by Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco, and published by Skira, containing the latest studies concerning the artist.