Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712 - 1793), An architectural capriccio with figures by a ruined arch. Photo Sotheby's
oil on panel, oval; 10 3/4 by 8 5/8 in.; 27.3 by 21.9 cm. Estimation: 100,000 - 150,000 USD
PROVENANCE: With Derek Johns, London;
Where purchased by Giancarlo Baroni.
EXHIBITED: New York, Master Paintings and Sculpture, Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., 16 January - 31 February 2003, no. 15a (where loaned by Giancarlo Baroni).
NOTE DE CATALOGUE: This Architectural capriccio with figures by a ruined arch displays Francesco Guardi's remarkable skill in creating
enchanting and convincing views from a pastiche of invented components. This work bears striking compositional similarities to another Guardi capriccio on canvas, now in the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian collection, Lisbon, which includes an almost identical arch, positioning of figures and domed building beyond.1 In the Gulbenkian picture, however, the arch spans a stretch of water and though the figures in the foreground are comparable in pose, they hold a fishing rod and bend to attend a basket rather than a bundle of long canes. The rendering of these two works meanwhile differs considerably; the handling of the Gulbenkian picture is much looser, perhaps due to its larger
dimensions, while in the present work, Guardi's approach is meticulous, using fine black marks to outline detailing in the architecture, to accentuate the tendrils of vegetation, the crumbling stonework in the arch and the porticoes of the building beyond. The result is a sharp and immediate image and an augmented sense of bright, natural light.
Pallucchini suggested a date of execution between 1770 and 1780 for the Gulbenkian picture. Given the parallels between that work and the present lot, it may be considered to have been executed in the same decade and is therefore a superb example of Guardi's mature period. We are grateful to David Marshall for endorsing an attribution to Francesco Guardi on the basis of photographs.
1. R. Pallucchini, Francesco Guardi, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon 1965, cat. no. XII, reproduced.
Sotheby's. Property from the Estate of Giancarlo Baroni. New York | 29 janv. 2013 www.sothebys.com