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Venice: The Giudecca with the Zitelle
Francesco Guardi
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Beyond Venice’s Grand Canal, on the peaceful island of Guidecca in the easternmost part of the city, is the domed church of Santa Maria della Presentazione. Better known as the Zitelle, the church was built in the sixteenth century and attached to a foundling hospital for young girls (zitella is Italian for ’spinster').

We see energetic figures unload cargo and row gondolas across the lagoon, all described with vibrant colour against a backdrop dominated by blue and brown tones. Guardi often positioned an elegant, white sail in the left foreground of his pictures to draw us into the scene (as in his The Punta della Dogana and Venice: The Doge’s Palace and the Molo). In the companion picture to this one, Venice: The Punta della Dogana, he used a boat’s spindly bare mast to the same effect.

Key facts
Artist Francesco Guardi
Artist dates 1712 - 1793
Full title Venice: The Giudecca with the Zitelle
Series Two Views of Venice
Date made 1780s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 18.7 x 23.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Elizabeth Carstairs, 1952
Inventory number NG6157
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Two Views of Venice

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Venice: The Punta della Dogana and Venice: The Guidecca with the Zitelle were painted as a pair and intended to be hung together. They show views of where the Venetian Lagoon meets the mouth of the Grand Canal on the east side of Venice (the island of Guidecca is even visible on the far left of The Punta della Dogana). In both paintings, Guardi used a soft, light touch and cool lighting to depict the buildings, summery sky and transparent water.

The small scale of these works, which are slightly smaller that an A4 piece of paper, would have made them easy to carry and transport. This may tell us about who bought such pictures, most likely tourists on their journey around Europe.

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