• Venice, c. 1770–80
  • Oil on canvas
  • Inv. 122

The Giudecca Canal with the Church of Saint Martha

Francesco Guardi

In this composition, in which one can see the far end of Saint Martha and the Giudecca Canal, Francesco Guardi depicts a peripheral Venice filled with details that narrate the daily life of the local population. Through this motif, the artist successfully expressed his immense artistic sensibility. This distancing from the more ostentatious aspect of his other paintings, of which the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum has several excellent examples (the Feste, in particular), and the concentration on a clearly more informal approach permitted Guardi to focus on depicting a cloudy sunrise in which the magical atmosphere of the canal dominates the entire surface of the picture.

For that reason, silver and blue shades prevail in the scene, the most distant shapes, boats and building silhouettes appearing dissolved in light monochromatic brushstrokes. The moisture of the lagoon and the greyish sky are reminiscent of the work of the Dutch artist Jan van Goyen. Francesco Guardi uses sfumato, a concept in which the light directly interferes in the intensity of the contrast between the objects depicted and the surrounding space, from which an optical phenomenon is produced, that dissipates and blends colours and borders.

Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian, Christie's, London, 23 April 1920 (no. 49).

H. 32.5 cm; W. 46.5 cm

Pallucchini 1965

Rodolfo Palluchini, Colecção Calouste Gulbenkian. Francesco Guardi. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1965, no. 13.

Morassi 1973

Antonio Morassi, Guardi. L’Opera completa di Antonio e Francesco Guardi. Venice: Alfieri, 1973, vol. I, no. 595; vol. II, p. 427, no. 627.

Muraro 1993

Michelangelo Muraro, Os Guardi da Colecção C. Gulbenkian / The Guardi Paintings of the C. Gulbenkian Collection. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1993, pp. 56–7, no. 627.

Sampaio 2009

Luísa Sampaio, Painting in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection. Lisbon/Milan: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum/Skira, 2009, pp. 122–3, cat. 51.

Venice 2012

Francesco Guardi. 1721–1793, exhibition catalogue. Venice: Museo Correr, 2012, pp. 242, 273, no. 100.

Updated on 15 june 2022

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