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Francesco Guardi, Venice: Piazza San Marco

Key facts
Full title Venice: Piazza San Marco
Artist Francesco Guardi
Artist dates 1712 - 1793
Date made about 1760
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 72.4 × 119.1 cm, 27.5 kg
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Richard Simmons, 1846
Inventory number NG210
Location Room 38
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venice: Piazza San Marco
Francesco Guardi

We look down on a captivating crowd of people and across the Piazza San Marco, one of Venice’s most famous landmarks. Characterful figures draw us into the scene – like the elegant couple in black cloaks who stride across the square, the gentleman dressed in a red cloak and powdered wig or the man who walks towards us puffing on a long pipe. Warm sunlight picks out the vibrant colours of the figures' clothing and the billowing white clouds above.

Guardi, like his near contemporary Canaletto, filled his work with details: tent-like shelters of street vendors sit across the square and lines of washing are strung out across the facade of the Procuratie Vecchie on the left. But Guardi’s technique was different to Canaletto’s: his brushwork is much looser, enhancing the poetic mood of his paintings.

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