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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 10.1 × 6.1 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2521.2
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Caprice View with Ruins
Francesco Guardi

This is one of three tiny pictures that have been grouped together since the early nineteenth century (the others show a man and child in a landscape with a derelict folly, and hard-working men beside a pool). It shows an elegantly dressed couple heading towards a pillared ruined arch, which appears in other pictures by Guardi. These foreground figures are only around one centimetre tall, but Guardi still managed to portray a sense of their movement, poses and dress.

Rich colours and bright light draw us into the scene. Guardi has created a glowing atmosphere – the elegant columns and domed roof reflect the sunlight, which also illuminates the white building beyond. These works, known as capricci or imaginary views, were bought as souvenirs by tourists to Venice, Guardi’s home city and where he spent his entire career.

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