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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 after 1780
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 34.9 × 53.4 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2525
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venice: Piazza San Marco
Francesco Guardi

Guardi’s shimmering brushwork gives this picture a magical quality. On the far side of the square, the facade of the Basilica di San Marco glows, while a blaze of sunlight warms the sky behind the Procuratie Vecchie, the offices of the Republic’s administration, to the left.

Although the figures are small, you can still make out all the different kinds of people going about their everyday lives. To the right, a couple in black coats and white masks talk to a man in yellow. In the centre, a man seems to reach for a child’s hand, while two dogs play in the sun nearby. Further back, market sellers stand beside their white tents.

A jagged, diagonal shadow cutting across the square gives liveliness to the composition. Other diagonals – the rooflines of the buildings at each side of the square and the white stone lines on the pavement – accentuate the recession of space.

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