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Francesco Guardi, A Caprice with a Ruined Arch

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

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