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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 10.4 × 6 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2521.3
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Caprice View with Ruins
Francesco Guardi

A crumbling, overgrown archway towers above a man and a young child carrying a stick, who are picked out by warm sunlight. The eye is led into the scene by the contrast of light, which illuminates the white stone building beyond, and shade. The use of simple blocks of colour and black lines to suggest architectural details might give the impression that this work was painted quickly on the spot, but it was most likely created in Guardi’s studio.

This is one of a group of three very small pictures which have been framed together since the early nineteenth century (in another, a stylish couple wander towards a ruined domed building, while the third shows two men standing beside a calm pool and huge archway). Imaginary scenes like this, inspired by the Italian countryside and ancient buildings, were known as capricci, and were bought as souvenirs by visitors to Venice, where Guardi lived and worked.

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