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Francesco Guardi, Caprice View with Ruins

Key facts
Full title Caprice View with Ruins
Artist Francesco Guardi
Artist dates 1712 - 1793
Date made after 1780
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 10.2 × 6.1 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2521.1
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Caprice View with Ruins
Francesco Guardi

This tiny picture, measuring only 10 by 6 cm, is framed with two other views of picturesque ruins in imaginary Italian settings (such paintings are known as capricci). One shows an elegant couple and the other depicts a man and child surrounded by soaring architecture. In the foreground of this scene, two figures – fishermen perhaps, or digging labourers – are hard at work beside the water, in the shadow of an imposing arch.

Guardi painted this on wood rather than on his traditional canvas support, probably because it was better suited to a picture of this size. His figures, evoked with the softest of touches, have energy and movement, and even on this scale he has created an atmospheric scene – the bright sunlight falls on the rich, crumbling red stone, overgrown with weeds.

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