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A Caprice with a Ruined Arch
Francesco Guardi

Small figures – traders returning home from market or a fishing trip – animate this little scene, but also serve as a measure of scale, alerting us to the size of the ruins. This is an imaginary scene known as a capriccio, but Guardi took inspiration from known buildings – the arch with a suspended lantern may be derived from the arcade of the Doge’s Palace in Venice (though it has been exaggerated, as is appropriate in a capriccio).

Guard has used fluid brushstrokes and thin paint layers, with pen-like details for the buildings. He produced these kinds of pictures in large numbers in his studio in Venice throughout the 1770s and 1780s as popular souvenirs for tourists.

Key facts
Artist Francesco Guardi
Artist dates 1712 - 1793
Full title A Caprice with a Ruined Arch
Date made about 1775
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 20.1 x 15.5 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2518
Location in Gallery Not on display
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