This spectacular view of Venice by one of the leading view-painters of the 18th century is among Guardi’s most accomplished works. Long considered the masterpiece of the De Ganay collection (in which it remained until 1989), it is rivalled in scale and ambition by Guardi’s immense pair of paintings at Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (National Trust).
Guardi has chosen to depict one of the less familiar views of Venice in this painting. We are looking west, along the north side of the Giudecca Canal, with the Bacino di San Marco behind us, and the island of the Giudecca just visible at the far left. The painting provides important visual evidence of the Zattere’s appearance at this date for the campanile of Sant’Agnese, rising above the skyline just right of centre, was demolished in 1837-38. The painting remained with its pendant, showing ‘The Ducal Palace from the Basin of San Marco’, until 1910. The latter was subsequently acquired by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg, but was destroyed in 1947.
Guardi painted this view on more than one occasion: examples are in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Fogg Art Museum) and Berlin (Gemäldgalerie), though both of these are on a much smaller scale. This is without doubt the artist’s most successful and scenographic representation of the subject and can be dated to the artist’s maturity, probably the late 1760s.