Autumn Exhibition in Venice | Francesco Guardi

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 26, 2012

From the Correr:

Francesco Guardi, 1712-1793
Museo Correr, Venice, 28 September 2012 — 6 January 2013

Curated by Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco

Francesco Gurdi, The Parlour of the Nuns at San Zaccaria
ca. 1750 (Venice: Ca’ Rezzonico), Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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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.

It is known that Francesco Guardi’s training took place within a modest family workshop in which everyone was a painter, from his father, Domenico, to his brothers, Nicolò and Antonio. None of them in life was able to attain a certain degree of prosperity, let alone success. After his death in 1793, Francesco Guardi was forgotten. His rediscovery is the merit of 20th-century criticism, and attained a high point in the fine exhibition curated by Pietro Zampetti, held in Palazzo Grassi in 1965.

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, one 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. A little later, Francesco Guardi began his production of the views, capriccios and fantastic landscapes that underpin his fame today. It is not certain when exactly he began working as a landscape painter; perhaps it was around 1755, when the painter was over 40 years old and had a less than exhilarating career as a figure painter behind him. His first works echoed the compositions of Canaletto and Marieschi, with fluid, controlled brushstrokes, still a long way from the bubbling, shorthand manner that would make him famous. But his unique style does already emerge in some of these works from the first period, 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. His period of greatest success was between the 1760s and 1770s and it was in this period that he painted the 12 canvases of the Ducal celebrations adapted from Canaletto’s own models and engraved by Giambattista Brustolon. Guardi based his paintings, today in the Louvre, on these prints; the result is truly astonishing and reveals the artist’s transfiguring, fantastic skill.

The picture 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. In 1782, Guardi was commissioned to paint four pictures to commemorate the visit of Pope Pius VI to Venice. For the 70-year-old artist, here at last was an official commission, and it was followed by the celebratory paintings of the incognito visit to Venice of the Russian archdukes, who travelled under the name of the Counts of the Nort

Over time, his highly personal style became increasingly free and allusive; the proportions between the various elements were freely modified, the perspective framework became elastic and was deformed, losing all association with reality. And finally, the figures became simply splashes of colour, a rapid white scribble or black dot traced out with a trembling movement.

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.

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.

Curators: Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco
Academic Committee: Giuseppe Pavanello, Charles Beddington, Catherine Whistler, Keith Cristiansen, Stephane Loire, Andrew Robison, Irina Artemieva, Lino Moretti
Scientific Director: Gabriella Belli

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Catalogue: Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco, eds., Francesco Guardi, 1712-1793 (Milan: Skira, 2012), ISBN: 9788857214818, $90. Available October 2012

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  1. […] can also see Canaletto in Venice at the Musée Maillol. The latter is loosely connected with the Guardi exhibition, opening in Venice at the Correr Museum on September 28. Continuing this theme of pairs, Canaletto […]

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