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Francesco Guardi: 'Venice: Piazza San Marco'

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The painting is one of the earliest of Guardi's works as a view painter, probably dating from about 1760. It shows the most famous of Venetian squares, the Piazza San Marco, with the medieval cathedral and its bell tower in the background and the 16th-century public offices, the Procuratie Vecchie, left, and the Procuratie Nuove, right, with shops and cafés to each side.

In Guardi's painting figures and architecture are more freely handled than was customary with Canaletto, and the crowd that idles in the Piazza is given greater prominence. In a smaller view of the same site of some twenty years later, also in the Collection ('Venice: Piazza San Marco'), the scene is painted with greater freedom and atmospheric resonance, with an evening shadow falling from the left.

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