de jonckheere old masters

Francesco Guardi

Pair of Capricci

Panels: 15,5 x 21,9 cm


The more intimate side of the art of Francesco Guardi is strongly present in this charming pair of views. Far removed from the splendour of the Grand Canal or the Piazza San Marco, these two caprices feature a water source, dominated, in one case, by a church and in the other, by houses. They beautifully illustrate the free and avant-gardist art of Francesco Guardi, who painted scenes of this type from the 1760s onwards. The natural aspect of the landscape, which here takes the place of the Venetian architecture, is made up of a forest and mountains that vanish on the horizon, lending this pair of panels an undeniable beauty.

The artist’s work during his mature period – to which this pair of panels belong – thus abandons the tradition of the perspective landscape in favour of the freer and more sensitive approach of the “capriccio”. Based on real and identifiable sites, the painter recreates imaginary views, in which he is able to fully express the talent that has earned him recognition today as a pre-Impressionist. As a free-thinking painter, Francesco Guardi did not seek to represent each motif in detail. Rather, his painting takes much greater liberty and thus gains a more personal quality. The artist chooses to emphasise the mood and atmosphere of the scene. The play of light and colour that Guardi deftly handles are remarkable and entice the viewer into this delicate view. The luminous atmosphere overall is further enhanced by the use of transparent colours and sprightly brushwork. Through a few simple strokes of colour, Guardi is thus able to create the fleeting impression that is so specific and typical of the play of sunlight on water. The scene is enlivened by figures composed with bright touches of colour, animating to this tranquil and gentle scene which is further enhanced by the artist’s vibrant brushwork.

A true master, Guardi brilliantly concentrates all his talent into these two small scenes, which are enthralling to behold. By opening up the theme of the vedute to an emotional dimension, this type of picture shows the painter as a precursor to a new style, anticipating the art of the 19th-century through the romantic melancholia expressed by the slightest stroke of the tip of a brush.

Provenance :
Private collection, Italy